Heart Health Awareness
The month of February is American Heart month. Since the National designation in 1964, several organizations, like the American Heart Association and Center for Disease Control, have raised awareness of cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease, more commonly known as heart disease, is the number one cause of death in the United States (US).
Heart disease includes heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and chest pain. It is estimated 85.6 million Americans are living with heart disease. Women are also highly affected by this disease. In fact, 1 in 3 deaths among women in the US is caused by heart disease each year.
The goal of Heart Month is to help our citizens live longer, healthier, and happier lives. This is achieved through raising awareness and education. Years of research and medical developments have enabled health care providers to identify methods to reduce American’s risk of contracting heart disease, early diagnosis, and management of symptoms.
Americans can reduce their risk of heart disease by making healthier choices. For example, 32.6% of adults in the US have high blood pressure. Sodium/salt is the biggest cause of high blood pressure in Americans. Another common food that has been linked to heart disease is sugar. Those who regularly consume high amounts of added sugar are much more likely to develop symptoms. In addition, tobacco products, like cigarettes and e-cigarettes, can cause heart disease. Therefore, limiting intake of salt, sugar, and tobacco can significantly reduce the risk of contracting heart disease and other major health problems.
Many people are unfamiliar with the symptoms of heart disease. Educating ourselves on what to look for and getting heart check-ups regularly is essential. Americans should begin regular cardiovascular screening tests at age 20. These examinations are recommended to include tracking the levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose. Further exams can be conducted. In addition, recognizing the symptoms of heart disease can help reduce the effects of heart disease. Symptoms include: chest pain; shortness of breath; pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in arms or legs; and/or pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back.
Living with heart disease can be difficult. However, there are many ways to control the disease and prevent further hospital visits. For example, taking small steps like drinking less soda or eating less salt are good practices. Initiating these lifestyle changes can be a daunting task, but there are resources available to help. Helpful tips can be found at the following links: Living Well With Heart Disease and WomenHeart, the National Coalition For Women with Heart Disease.
These healthy living tips have helped to reduce the mortality rates caused by heart disease by 70% since 1968. Continuing to educate ourselves on the signs and symptoms of heart disease will continue to reduce the amount of people living with this disease. Educating people and spreading the word of this disease will also help. Finally, getting an annual heart-health screening gives everyone a chance at a happier, healthier, and longer life span.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32
Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 512-463-0672