You may not be familiar with Title 36 of the United States Code. It is the title that is devoted to the subject of Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies and Organizations. Section 101 of Title 36 states:
The President is requested each year a proclamation -
(1) designating February as American Heart Month;
(2) inviting the chief executive officers of the States, territories, and possessions of the United States to issue proclamations designating February as American Heart Month; and
(3) urging the people of the United States to recognize the nationwide problem of heart and blood vessel diseases and to support all essential programs required to solve the problem.
If you have never seen this section of United States law before, I bet it has come to your attention that February is heart month. I mean, it makes sense as February also has a day that is devoted to affairs of the heart, also known as Valentine’s Day. Plus, if you have bought items in a store over the last week, you may have noticed cashier’s asking you if you wanted to make a donation to the American Heart Association (AHA), or if you pay by credit or debit card, the card reader probably has a message asking you if you want to make a donation to the AHA.
Portions of this year’s Presidential proclamation are displayed on the AHA webpage. Among other things, the President said that heart diseases are the nation’s most prolific killer. In case you think this is an exaggeration, the AHA webpage includes the following background information: “Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death, responsible for an estimated 17 million deaths every year in the world. In the United States, cardiovascular disease is listed as the underlying cause of death in 840,678 deaths – about 1 out of every 3. Additionally, the AHA tells us that research shows that at least 48 percent of all U.S. adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure and high blood pressure.
The President’s remarks highlighted that technological advancements and decades of scientific research over the past half-century have shed tremendous light on the causes contributing to heart disease – including smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. The remarks also underscore that we have learned that it is never too late or too early to improve your heart health, and even what might seem like small changes such as committing to a healthy diet and regular exercise can make a big difference.
Every year on the first Friday of February, heart organizations such as Go Red (the organization that is concerned about heart disease in women) encourages us to wear red for the day. So a sea of red in your social or business outings may have made you conscious of heart month last Friday.
Many of us watch the national news or the morning programs on the networks. I have begun to see a number of segments related to Heart Month. For example, when I turned on the Today show yesterday, I observed that the hosts Savannah and Hoda were both wearing red. And one of the teasers for the show advised that it was #Heart Month, and that the show was going to devote an entire half hour to improving your heart health with exercises you need to do and tests you should be getting. From my point of view, this is a valuable slot of time, so the fact that the Today producers devoted it to improving us and de-stressing us is significant. I mean, one less minute we hear about the latest political or social scandal du jour has to improve our health, and correspondingly, our outlook on life. I am sure that the other networks provide similar morning or evening news segments that are designed to advance our heart health this month.
In case you don’t watch television, but are on social media, you might want to check out the webpage for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institute of Health. They are sponsoring the #Our Hearts social media campaign. The premise for the campaign is “Research shows that having social support makes being heart healthy easier. Use #OurHearts to share what you and your partner, or squad are doing to be heart healthy together! “. The webpage even has a printable template so that all you need to do is fill in the template, snap a photo and tag #OurHearts on social media!
Or if you are into the latest tech devices, use your Apple Watch to help you observe heart month. Go to the webpage https://9to5mac.com/2019/02/01/heart-month/ to see what Apple is doing for Heart Month. For example, Apple is offering Apple watch activity challenges, as well as events in some of their stores across the nation.
Or if you are more into just surfing the web and looking for things to read or watch about the heart, check out the Mayo Radio website. In their Tuesday Tips segment, there is a presentation called the 8 myths about heart disease you need to know, and I'm sure we can all learn a lot from this segment.
We should also remember during heart month that there are some health and hygiene factors that we don't necessarily connect to heart issues. So it is a good thing that websites like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) kicked off American Heart Month with an article on their website entitled: "American Heart Month 2019: Let's talk about cholesterol." Or that the AHA website has a Ten Myths webpage (see below for more) that reminds us that those with diabetes need to recognize the link between that condition and heart issues. And that the American Dental Association website gets into the act with an article on their website, sponsored by Colgate, entitled "Get to the heart of your health during American Heart Month". This segment reminds us that good dental hygiene can translate into good heart health.
On the same webpage where the AHA discussed the Presidential proclamation on Heart Month, there is a link to the Top Ten Myths on Cardiovascular Diseases. Here they are in a nutshell. I especially related to number 7, and I believe that I and other heart failure patients disprove this myth
If you are intrigued by these myths and want to know more, visit the AHA website.
And finally, let’s not forget that heart failure is a significant heart disease that sometimes is overlooked. That is why there is an organization that is devoted to heart failure. It is known as the Heart Failure Society of America. It has a webpage devoted to Heart Failure week of 2019. The theme of this week, which takes place beginning on February 10, is “Do your part, know your heart.” This includes encouraging regular checkups, educating the public about the signs and symptoms of heart failure, providing information on diet and exercise, and stressing the importance of regular heart screenings. Since I was not aware of what heart failure was before it landed on my doorstep, I think this is a valuable campaign.
So the next time this month that I am given the option, I will take advantage and add an extra dollar or two onto my sales tab to support the American Heart Association. It may seem that a small donation would be useless. But numerous small contributions can add up to funds for research that may help us to triumph over the tragedy of heart diseases.
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. Since that time, she has been learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth.