Five for February: American Heart Month

Throughout the month of February, our organization works diligently to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends and communities involved. We’re also getting the world involved through collaborative efforts with many countries, primarily within Europe, South America, Africa, and most recently, China.

How did February become American Heart Month?

Valentine’s Day and the heart go hand-in-hand. The first American Heart Month, which took place in February 1964, was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson via Proclamation 3566 on December 30, 1963. The Congress, by joint resolution on that date, has made this request of the president annually.

Back then, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease. While fatalities have decreased since the first American Heart Month in 1964, the most recent numbers are still grim. Perhaps most telling is that cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

How can you get involved in better heart health?

There are many things we can do in our daily lives to help spread the message, and it’s particularly important to me because many of the women in my family have various forms of heart disease.

Consider these tips – and while we still have about 10 days left of American Heart Month, I’d encourage you to keep up these habits year-round.

  1. Learn CPR and/or refresh your CPR skills. Start by learning Hands-Only CPR, but then consider taking one of our courses for a deeper dive into the subject matter. Search for a course offering near you on our Find A Course page.
  1. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week – or a combination of both. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.
  1. When you think meals, think healthy! When cooking at home, think heart-healthy food options all month long: MORE vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains and LESS sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar.  Simple Cooking with Heart recipes make it easy – and tasty.
  1. Check out the My Life Check® page to learn your heart score. My Life Check is a simple, seven step list designed by the AHA to deliver on the hope we all have – to live a long, productive healthy life.
  1. Learn the signs of a stroke: Face drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty. If you see these, it’s time to call 9-1-1. The pneumonic FAST will help you remember the signs and action step.

Improving heart and brain health is our mission so that you can experience more of life’s precious moments. And until there’s a world free of heart disease and stroke, we’ll be here, working to make a healthier, longer life possible for everyone.

This month, please join me in watching and sharing our Life is Why video (above) on your social media accounts. Together, we can build a culture of health where making the healthy choice is the easy choice.  Why?  Because Life is Why.