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Published on February 03, 2020

American Heart Month - February 2020


Since 1963, America has marked February to celebrate American Heart Month. Some facts about American Heart Month from the American Heart Association's Newsroom:

  • 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 requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month.

  • While American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States, it’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders.

The mission of American Heart Month is to motivate Americans to make changes in their diets and activity level that will actively combat heart disease. Heart disease kills more than half a million Americans each year and is the leading cause of death for both men and women. There is a mistaken perception that heart disease primarily impacts men. This is untrue. Heart disease is an issue for both men and women and should be taken seriously to prevent serious health complications.

There are multiple types of heart disease, including Coronary artery disease (CAD) which is the most common and often leads to a heart attack or angina (heart pain). It is often due to the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which is when the arteries in your heart are narrowed or blocked. You can greatly reduce your risk of CAD through lifestyle changes and sometimes medication.

For 2020, the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) will focus on how people can control high blood pressure, which is a factor in CAD. Did you know that 1 of 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, which is often called the Silent Killer because it can be present even when there are no symptoms. It’s important to have a trusted health professional monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. High blood pressure has serious consequences, as it can reduce the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and the heart and cause heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is dangerous and far too common. It doesn’t take much effort to combat high blood pressure. According to Harvard Health, the following changes can help bring your blood pressure back to the normal range:

  • Lose weight: It doesn't have to be a lot of weight; even a small loss will help lower blood pressure.

  • Read labels: Reading labels will help you reduce sodium in your diet, which helps lower blood pressure.

  • Get moving: Even a little exercise can make a significant change in your blood pressure. Choose an exercise you enjoy so you make it a habit.

  • Pump some iron: Women lose muscle mass as they age. Weightlifting helps restore it.

  • Limit alcohol to one drink per day: Drinking too much can increase blood pressure.

  • Relieve stress with daily meditation or deep breathing sessions: Stress can cause a spike in blood pressure and can also lead to unhealthy behaviors like drinking.

Do you think you know about high blood pressure? Take the Blood Pressure 101: Know the Basics quiz and test your mettle. If you’re ready to get your high blood pressure under control, make plans to attend UNC Lenoir’s Your Blood Pressure: Reaching The Target workshop. Click the link to register online or with a phone call. We also offer a comprehensive Weight Management department, with everything from support groups to surgical assistance. Online, you can learn more about high blood pressure in our Health Library.

If you don’t have a physician that can help you set goals to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart issues. UNC Lenoir’s Physician Finder lists physicians by specialty and distance so you can find exactly the right doctor for your specific situation. We are here to help you reach your goals and live a happier, healthier lifestyle.