American Heart Month has been taking place throughout the month of February since December 30, 1963, when President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed it. The twenty eight days of February are federally dedicated to cardiovascular health, to encourage the population to be more aware of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
Did you know...
17.3 million lives are lost to cardiovascular disease each year and that number is not expected to decrease anytime soon.
By 2030, 23.6 million lives are expected to succumb to it. Someone passes from cardiovascular disease every forty seconds on average. After you do the math, that adds up to about 2,200 deaths each day.
Do you know what else happens every forty seconds? Someone suffers from a stroke. With a little more math, that means 795,000 strokes occur each year. However, a stroke claims a live every four minutes, accounting for almost one in every 20 deaths in the United States.
Additionally - an estimated 34% of Americans has hypertension, or abnormally high blood pressure and 9.1% have diagnosed diabetes.
In addition, according to the Center for Disease Control, 22.2% of deaths among Asians or Pacific Islanders is due to heart disease. So heart disease is definitely affecting our communities. But what can we do about it?
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What can you do about it?
Although cardiovascular disease is a prominent cause of death, it is the most preventable. First and foremost, it’s important to know your family health history and start making heart-healthy choices. If you’re not sure where to start, schedule an appointment and talk with your doctor to make a plan that is suitable for you.
Adding light exercise to your daily routine can make a huge impact. Just walking fifteen minutes a day, or taking the stairs instead of the escalator, makes a difference! What you put into your body really matters as well. Eat at home more and reduce the amount of sodium used to cook with.
If you’re a smoker, it’s time to start taking the necessary steps to kick the habit. If you are taking prescribed medicine, it’s extremely important to take it just as instructed by your doctor.
Don’t let the fact that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death frighten you. Be encouraged by the fact that it is the most preventable with the easy steps that it takes to prevent it.
How to get involved
February is Heart Health Month. There are a variety of ways to get involved and spread awareness about managing the health of your cardiovascular system. Below, we've included a short list of ways to get involved this month:
- Educate yourself on how to better your heart health
- Donate to the American Heart Association to support heart research
- Make a purchase of any apparel from the AHA and all proceeds are donated to the organization's mission
- Engage in physical activity
- Talk with friends and family about the importance of good heart health
In addition to being February being heart health month, February is also Black History Month. And we can't talk about those two things in the same sentence without mentioning Daniel Hale Williams.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams
Williams successes are many and earn him a respected place both in Black history and medical history alike.
In May 1891, Williams—who was called Dr. Dan by patients - opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, in the South Side of Chicago. This hospital became the nation’s first hospital with a nursing and intern program that had a racially integrated staff. At this time, African-Americans were still barred from being admitted to hospitals and African-American doctors were typically refused staff positions.
Williams also became one of the first physicians to perform open-heart surgery in the United States. In 1893 a man named Cornish was brought to the Provident hospital with a severe stab wound to the chest. Without the aid of blood transfusions and now widely-used modern medical procedures, Williams successfully sutured Cornish's pericardium, the membranous sac that encloses the heart.
With this successful operation, he became the third surgeon in the world to have conducted open-heart surgery, behind only two others: Physicians Francisco Romero and Henry Dalton.
In 1894, Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed the chief surgeon of the Freedmen’s Hospital, which provided care for formerly enslaved African-Americans.
Then, in 1895, he co-founded the National Medical Association, a professional organization for African-American medical practitioners, as an alternative to the American Medical Association, which didn’t allow African-American membership.
Upon his retirement, Dr. Dan received honorary degrees from Howard and Wilberforce Universities, was named a charter member of the American College of Surgeons and was a member of the Chicago Surgical Society. Williams died on August 4, 1931. (Black Inventor)