February is American Heart Month, and it’s a good time to remember the things you can do every day to prevent heart disease, increase your heart health, and live heart-healthy lives.
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 600,000 people in the US die of heart disease every year – that’s 1 in 4 deaths. Nearly 380,000 of these deaths are caused by coronary heart disease, which is the most common type of heart disease. Including the cost of health care services, medications, and loss in productivity, coronary heart disease costs the United States around $108.9 billion dollars every year.
Additionally, roughly 720,000 Americans have a heart attack every year, with 515,000 of these attacks being reported as first-time experiences. A 2005 survey reported that 92% of people recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack, while only 27% were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 911 when someone was having a heart attack. Here are the major warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, feeling lightheaded, or experiences cold sweats
The numbers are shocking and provide proof that heart disease is a real threat. You should know:
- Cardiovascular disease kills more people each year than cancer, lower respiratory diseases and accidents.
- Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
- Heart disease is the number one killer in women age 20 and over.
There are several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:
- Overweight and obesity
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of physical activity
- Excessive alcohol use
So what can you do to protect yourself from heart disease, and increase your heart health? While there are some risk factors you can’t control, such as age, gender, heredity, race and diabetes, there are risk factors for heart disease you CAN control, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, exercise, obesity and stress.
The SlimGenics® STEP program plan offers a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which already puts you at an advantage for preventing heart disease. Add in 30 minutes of regular movement each day, and you can do wonders for your heart health.
Other factors that affect heart health include smoking and alcohol consumption. The SlimGenics program already restricts these activities for the benefit of your overall health. If you do smoke, visit SmokeFree.gov for more resources on how to quit, including a Quit Smoking Plan.
You are already doing so much to ensure you are at peak heart health, but heart disease prevention doesn’t stop there. Educating others is a powerful way to help us reduce heart disease as a nation. Here are a few things you can do:
- Display table tents with heart facts and heart health information including SlimGenics Program information, in your café, lobbies and office.
- Work with your Food Services department to offer a heart-healthy snack or meal on every Friday in February. For inspiration, take a look at these delicious recipes from our Food Blog.
- Turn your building red by using red light bulbs or adding red covers over the lights.