Keep your heart healthy in February
What: Heart disease, a catchall term that refers to several specific kinds of heart conditions, is the overall leading cause of death in the U.S. It affects both men and women, and people of all ethnicities and age groups. It is costly to treat, but dangerous if ignored. However, heart disease can be prevented by adopting healthy habits. Meanwhile, research continues to find new, effective ways to prevent and treat the disease. To bring awareness of risks and rally support for new research, February is American Heart Month.
Background: Since it was established by Congress in 1963, the President has issued a proclamation every year declaring February as American Heart Month. The event is used to raise awareness on heart disease prevention and to raise funds for treatment research, while health organizations champion the month each year to help their cause. Every February, the American Heart Association heads up major campaigns such as National Wear Red Day on Feb. 4, which aims to raise money to treat heart disease in women.
Story Pitch: American Heart Month is a great opportunity for many health-conscious companies and causes. Since a healthy diet is vital to preventing heart disease, food manufacturers should promote products that are nutritious and low in cholesterol. A variety of health organizations can educate others on the links between heart disease and other health problems, and address ways to both prevent and treat the disease. Research is starting to find differences in how heart disease affects people by ethnicity and gender, and advocates for these groups can raise awareness of symptoms and risk factors.
Story Hook: Each year, about 1.26 million Americans experience a heart attack, a dangerous acute condition where blood is blocked from reaching an area of the heart, causing heart cells to die. There are many possible symptoms of a heart attack, but not all sufferers experience them, and few people are aware of all the symptoms. Since time is of the essence during a heart attack, how should someone get help, or assist someone experiencing an attack? While at the hospital, how can a patient advocate for the best treatment? What should they make hospital staff aware of? Consider the following as you make your pitch:
- After a check up, how can a patient interpret blood work numbers like cholesterol?
- Where can someone learn to administer CPR?
- Increasingly, more women than men die from heart disease each year. Studies are finding that the disease affects women differently, and women often experience fewer symptoms, even no pain, during a heart attack. How can women recognize their heart disease risk factors, and what should they be sure to talk to their physician about?
- Heart disease rates vary from state to state. How does your state rank, and what can be done to address higher rates?
Tips: To help educate the public on heart disease risks and symptoms, provide contact information for a local leading cardiologist. Someone who recognized their heart disease and took action to stay healthy is also a great contact.
The American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
— Heart Disease Home
Go Red for Women
National Institutes of Health
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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