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American Heart Month February 2018

February is Heart Month Flowers or Candy

American Heart Month is a federally designated event to raise awareness of heart health and is observed annually.

Chances are, we all know someone affected by heart disease and stroke, because about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.

The biggest part of living healthy comes down to simply making healthy choices.

While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.

Cardiovascular diseases, which includes stroke, claim the lives of about one woman every 80 seconds unnecessarily — because about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action.

Eating right, reducing stress, and getting plenty of physical exercise can help you not become a statistic of heart disease.

Move It Or Lose It!

Being more active can help your heart by:

  1. lowering your blood pressure
  2. boosting your levels of good cholesterol (HDL)
  3. improving your blood flow (circulation)
  4. helping you keep your weight under control
  5. helping to prevent bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis
  6. helping you to be more physically active and in a better mood
  7. keeping the doctors away

Some Heart Month History

  • 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.
  • At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.
  • While American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States, it’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.9 million deaths each year.
  • That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson’s proclamation in its entirety when he first declared February as American Heart Month in 1964.

Heart-in the Physical Links

Start here and choose one of the heart related quizzes from The American Heart Association and learn about BMI, blood pressure and how diet impacts your heart and its plumbing. You’ll have fun doing it , too!

Here is a Primer to Heart Disease Educational Materials for Patients from including images of the heart, treatment options and education for patients just hearing they have a heart -related diagnosis of some kind.

Did you know when exercising, it takes about 10 seconds for the blood pumped by your heart to get from your heart to your big toe and back. It actually has to push blood through about 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to circle the entire world about 2 ½ times! Unbelievable! Check out Heart Facts from Soft Schools where heart information is so easy to understand it’s child’s play!

There are several misconceptions about heart disease in women, and they could be putting you at risk. Read Facts About Heart Disease in Women specifically from Go Red For Women and know that if you’re a woman of color you are at greater risk for heart disease.

Go to Black Americans & Heart Disease – Facts & Statistics from Close the Gap to help understand the risk if you are a Black American your risk for heart disease is higher than for Caucasian Americans, this site will help you sort out your risk. It also has links to other statistics by race.

With the heart being one of the body’s essential organs, this link to National Geographic article on Heart organ transplant explains how important being an organ donor is in this day and age, and how to keep your heart healthy.

Here is a list of Medicines for heart disease from The Heart Foundation and explains the categories of meds and how they help to keep the heart working before a heart attack and after a heart-related problem arises.

The Heart…Of it…

As a symbol the heart is as old as time. Check out the ways the Heart symbol has been used, from family crests in the 13 centuries to today with computers in the mix anything becomes possible!

Has long been a reliable central image for songwriters to convey the joy, grief, pain, confusion – and any other feeling of love. Check out Billboard’s 2017 list of the top 50 Billboard Hot tunes with Heart in the title and enjoy tapping your toes down “memory lane”! Oh, and maybe have a Kleenex or two handy…Just in case…!

When you hear bad news, you might feel your “heart drop” or have to deal with “heart ache”. There’s more to these metaphors than simply describing intense emotions as they point to the fascinating way our bodies experience these feelings, both emotionally and physically. To answer the question, Why Do We Feel Intense Emotions In Our Chest? from IFLScience to answer this and other questions you might have about emotions and the physical heart.

Lily&Q’s say…This is the month for all things of the Heart! And with Valentine’s Day on the 14th it is a good time to examine as Tina Turner sings from her release of “Tiny Dancer” in 1984, “What’s Love got to do with it…?”
Evidentially not much when a lover leaves when a STI/HIV diagnosis is given to one of the two…
It is said that women need to hear the words of love before they commit to a relationship, so, if this is true why doesn’t either party STILL ask more questions of their partners? Like, “Have you been STI/HIV tested lately?” No, no that would totally ruin the moment, right? What about “ruining” the rest of YOUR life for the sake of the moment?
In a day and time that less conversation than ever before passes between partners having un-protected sex, something else must change in our interactions and perceptions of our partners to bring about the end of HIV transmission. This isn’t by any means, old news, either.
It still amazes me that words coming out of my partners mouth were more important to believe, then what medically based science said and still says about STI/HIV transmission and risk.
Like a simple four-letter word, LOVE, could protect us somehow, and in fact that word usually broke someone’s heart or left us with heartbreak when our partner said they didn’t love us anymore. So, what does love have to do with STIs and HIV? Absolutely Nothing!
In the 1980’s and 1990’s the status quo was if the person didn’t look sick, then they weren’t. How dumb of us, and how smart of HIV. Since HIV does all the damage systematically on the inside with no outward symptoms, merely “looking” at someone to make an HIV diagnosis was ludicrous to say the least. Some of us did it that way, though not thinking about HIV or anything else.
I would like to think, “that was then, this is now” with the “now” full of anti-stigma and prevention messages making a real difference in transmission rates.
But it isn’t true in the least with transmission rates on the rise.
Long-term survivors of HIV like me wonder what it will really take. When decades of illness and death hasn’t seemed to help. Granted by watching me over the years maybe my younger family members might be smarter than I was about STI/HIV transmission, but chances are good that even hearing my story won’t change many of the minds of the young people I share my HIV story with over and over again, year in and year out.
It makes me sad, not pissed off. Is this apathy on my part?
No just weariness at times, and other times a renewed heart and passion for hoping that just one of them in hearing distance might make the right decision in the heat of the moment.
Since HIV/AIDS right now is still a lifelong disease, speaking about my life and my HIV status gives me purpose, and with February being Heart Month I feel revitalized in the fight against HIV/STI transmission and helping to de-stigmatize testing so that no one else must explain HIV to their parents or loved ones after receiving an HIV+ diagnosis.
Do your part in the fight today! Know your own STI/HIV status so that you are part of impacting the STI transmission rates in your community.
By testing you make it easier to bring up the subject to your next partner(s) and reduce your risk.
By testing you get more education and ways to help protect yourself from someone else’s body fluids when they are too scared to get tested or even talk about their risk factors.
In a world where we are still looking and longing for a “Love Forever” relationship, starting with a serious talk about STI/HIV might just be the way you can “weed out” the ones who are in it for the moment, and those it might be worth pursuing a real, long-term relationship with.
I won’t be in the bedroom or wherever with you, but heed my words the sentence, “You’re HIV+.” is short, simple, life-changing and devastating to hear.
Honor your Heart, find a test site, and just do IT TODAY! Know your HIV/STI status!