February is known to be about hearts, but not just the kind Cupid aims for. It’s National Heart Month, and a great time to learn about taking the best care of your body’s most important muscle. Here are some important facts you might not know and tips you can use to keep your heart healthy:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Over time it can cause a heart attack, and many people are unaware of the warning signs—which can be rather mild. Chest pain or discomfort, pressure or squeezing, along with shortness of breath, and nausea, are all symptoms of heart attack. Although not everyone who has a heart attack experiences the same symptoms, it’s important to take notice and know what to look for in order to get proper help quickly.
- Risk factors such as age and heredity cannot be changed, so be sure to see your doctor regularly and make sure they know your family’s history of heart problems.
- Heart issues are often associated with men, when in fact 1 in 4 women have heart disease. Being overweight, a smoker, or inactive all contribute to heart disease. Luckily, you can prevent these risks by making good food choices, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. While this can sound daunting, making small daily changes can go a long way: avoid adding salt to your food, gradually cut back on cigarettes, and make an effort to take a walk each day.
- Diets that are high in fat can lead to elevated levels of cholesterol in your blood, which can cause heart complications by creating blockages in your arteries. There are medications to help with high cholesterol including statins, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, and niacin. Each has potential side effects, so talk to your doctor to devise a plan for what will work best for you.
For more information on heart disease and other health matters wherever you are, check out the MedlinePlus mobile site.
Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in paint, plumbing, and other areas of the home. Exposure to lead can damage children’s brains and nervous systems, causing behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, or death. Children 6 years old and younger are the most at risk.
You can prevent lead poisoning by
- Getting your home tested: Homes built before 1978 are especially dangerous, but can be made safe.
- Getting your child tested: A simple blood test can detect if high levels of lead are present.
- Getting the facts: Visit Lead Free Kids to learn more about testing and other ways to be lead safe.
Learn more about what you can do to protect your family from lead poisoning.
From the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health:
The FDA’s Office of Women’s Health launched the Pink Ribbon Sunday program to educate African American and Hispanic women about early detection of breast cancer through mammography. The program strives to reduce breast cancer health disparities by empowering community leaders to develop mammography awareness programs tailored to the needs of their region. Activities have ranged from mobile mammography events and health fairs to “Pink” luncheons and concerts.
Order your free resources now to begin planning a Pink Ribbon event for your community.
As part of National Recovery Month, National Wellness Week, which runs from September 19-25, highlights ways to live a longer, healthier life if you or someone you know is in recovery from a mental or substance use disorder. People with untreated mental and substance use disorders often die decades earlier than those in the general population.
According to Million Hearts—a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years—heart disease causes one in every three deaths in the United States. Overall, Americans suffer more than two million heart attacks and strokes every year. People living with untreated mental and substance use disorders are at even greater risk than the general population of developing cardiovascular disease. The goals of the Million Hearts initiative are consistent with National Wellness Week’s focus on increasing years of life for people with mental and substance use disorders.
During National Wellness Week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will partner with the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health to encourage individuals to improve one physical health behavior, while exploring their talents, skills, interests, social connections, and environment. Hundreds of consumer/peer-run, faith- based, and other community organizations, as well as behavioral health and primary care providers, will host events nationwide in support of National Wellness Week and to promote the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, which are:
- Social – Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
- Environmental – Promoting good health by occupying pleasant, safe, and stimulating environments that support well-being
- Physical – Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, nutrition, and sleep while discouraging the use of tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption
- Emotional – Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships Spiritual – Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life
- Occupational – Gaining personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
- Intellectual – Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
- Financial – Feeling satisfied with current and future financial situations
On Friday, thousands of people across the country will put on their dancing shoes for a “Line Dance for Wellness.” Line dancing spans generations and cultures, while building community connections. It is an ideal example of how to incorporate both the physical and social dimension of wellness by bringing people together for fun and a bit of exercise.
Find out how you can participate in National Wellness Week. Find activities in your community, learn how to coordinate activities of your own or share information about the National Wellness Week activities you plan to host.
Learn more about the Million Hearts Initiative.