Get Off Your A?# and Read This! It’s American Heart Month!

Wake up! – During American Heart Month let us rededicate ourselves to reducing the burden of heart disease by raising awareness, taking steps to improve our own heart health, and encouraging our colleagues, friends, and family to do the same. If it hasn’t happened already; the cold hard reality is that you or someone close to you will have to confront Heart Disease at some point in life. Heart Disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. More women die of heart disease than from all forms of cancer combined. Not to be pessimistic, but it’s inevitable that you or someone you know will cross this challenge at some point in life. So take one second to learn about American Heart month and don’t just chalk it up to be another cause that has nothing to do with you.

Unless you are a Heart Patient or have a personal connection to a heart challenge you’re probably starting to tune this out already. Another cause to support right? “I’m healthy", “I’ll worry about this later”,…..”I’m too young to worry about this”……….”we’re born to die anyway, what’s the point?”

“Okay, so quit smoking, exercise more, watch my weight and cholesterol, yada yada right?”

Those are the things that the American Heart Association has been suggesting for years. I’ve restated these valuable suggestions at the end of this post, but how about doing a little more than the status quo in honor of American Heart Month? How about being a Heartosaurus?  Heartosauruses are all about living life to its fullest and finding ways to deal with Heart Disease without subordinating to it.

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD A BRUSH WITH HEART DISEASE, be it a heart attack, aneurysm, heart surgery, or anything else; REACH OUT TO THEM THIS MONTH! Make a simple phone call, send an email, send an ecard, or send the always convenient text. Ask them how they’re feeling and let them know it’s American Heart Month and you are thinking about them. As a survivor, I can tell you the impact of being on the receiving end of one of these simple but thoughtful gestures, is immeasurable. It really goes a long way to show the person you not only care about them, but you’ve taken an interest to identify with what they’ve gone through.

IF YOU ARE A DOCTOR OR NURSE, reach out to a few current or past patients and say hi. Let them know you are thinking about them because it’s American Heart Month and you just wanted to check in on them and see how they are doing. You can’t imagine how this will be received by the patient. A call for something other than an appointment or test? A call for unofficial business? Believe me, it’s a rare thing and your patient will not only be surprised, but will view you in a whole new way. 

IF YOU ARE A HEART PATIENT, what are you doing to live healthy? Have you used your experience to readjust your perspective on life, use it as a new beginning? Are you a Heartosaurus?

ALSO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND AWARENESS BY:
Heart disease can be prevented. If you have a family history of Heart Disease be sure to get screened appropriately. My own heart condition was diagnosed after a routine physical. I was lucky to have a doctor that was progressive, and on the ball. He sent me for a stress test which is not customary for a 37 year old. I would have been dead within a year if they had not screened me and found my aortic aneurysm. Use this Heart Month as a reminder to schedule that physical you've been putting off, and encourage people in your family to be screened for heart conditions.

To keep your heart healthy:
• Watch your weight.
• Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
• Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
• Get active and eat healthy.
• Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin every day if you are a man over the age of 45 or a woman over 55.
• Manage stress.

Heart Resources:
·         The John Ritter Research Program (http://www.thejohnritterresearchprogram.org)
·         AorticDissection.com (http://www.aorticdissection.com)
·         AorticDissection UK (http://www.aorticdissection.co.uk)
·         AthleteWithStent (http://www.athletewithstent.com)
·         The American Heart Association
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/library/toolkit/index.htm)
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heart Disease: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/faqs.htm)
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Quit Smoking (http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/index.htm)
• Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, Heart Disease 101
• Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, Fact Sheet About Heart Disease (http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/heart-disease.cfm)
• Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, For Your Heart Survey (http://www.womenshealth.gov/foryourheart/)February 2011 Toolkit National Health Information Center  9
• Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, Heart Health and Stroke (http://www.womenshealth.gov/heart-stroke/)
• National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Heart and Vascular Diseases (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/index.htm)
• National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, The Heart Truth Campaign (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/)
• National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Keep the Beat: Deliciously Health Eating, Keep the Beat: Deliciously Health Eating
• National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Keep the Beat: Deliciously Health Eating, Delicious Heart-Healthy Latino Recipes
(Spanish/English) (PDF – 2.82MB)
• National Institutes of Health, SeniorHealth, Heart Attack 
• National Institutes of Health, SeniorHealth, High Blood Cholesterol
• National Institutes of Health, SeniorHealth, High Blood Pressure
• Read Food Labels
• U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Aspirin for Reducing Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke: KNOW THE FACTS
• U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Resources for Veterans and the Public—Heart Disease


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