Every year the month of February is thematic of love and romance and all other matters of the heart. In a more literal sense, February is National Heart Month according to the American Heart Association.
So what is American Heart Month?
It began in 1964 after the late Lyndon B. Johnson declared it the December before. At the time this was declared by the White House, more than half the deaths in the United States statistically were caused by cardiovascular disease. America has since ramped up awareness and there are many organizations that campaign for cardiovascular health, but the threat remains. Globally, cardiovascular disease and failure is estimated to cause around 18 million deaths per year. According to the American Heart Association, that number is expected to exceed 23 million by 2030. The chances that we know someone with a cardiovascular disease or complication in this country are great, and as someone living with health problems such as diabetes, it is important to keep yourself educated in the holiday spirit. There are dozens of scary statics on cardiovascular disease that may just scare you straight into a diet.
What can we do to make ourselves more aware?
The first step to educating yourself, aside from the aforementioned scary statistics, is to recognize and understand the symptoms of common heart complications, like a heart attack. This is not only important for yourself, but others around you as well. Recognizing the warning signs of a heart attack so that you can act quickly in an emergency can dramatically increase the chances of survival. In a study by the Center for Disease Control, only 27% of heart attack survivors were aware of all the major symptoms before the attack and knew to call 911. Most people recognize the chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack, but there are other indicators as well, such as:
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness.
- Intense cold sweats.
- Indigestion or a stomach ache.
- Exhaustion or fatigue.
- Increased anxiety or insomnia over a period of time (can be indicative that you are at risk).
All of this being said, you don’t want to realize it is happening the second the person is having an episode. Heart attacks do not always occur like they do in the movies, with a dramatic chest clutch and collapse. It is arguably even more important to recognize the symptoms that you may be at risk ahead of time and see a doctor. “If you aren’t sure, get checked out,” says Charles Chambers, M.D., Director of the Cardiac Catherization Laboratory at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute.
You can visit our main website Total Diabetes Supply to purchase various health monitors to stay on top of your own cardiac and general health. Blood pressure monitors can be found here and other vital sign monitors here. Happy national heart month!