Listen With Your Heart, To Your Heart : Heart Disease Awareness Month

It’s no secret (or surprise) that February is Heart Disease Awareness Month.

What better month to talk about hearts than the month that holds Valentine’s Day – right?

Listen With Your Heart, To Your Heart : Heart Disease Awareness MonthIn 1964, February was named American Heart Month by President Lyndon B. Johnson along with the American Heart Association to bring awareness to all forms of heart disease and defects. Other than heart disease, Congenital Heart Defect Week is part of Heart Month. This takes places February 7th-14th.

Let’s talk about heart disease and why awareness is so important!

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is defined by the American Heart Association and Center for Disease Control as several types of heart conditions -with the most common being coronary artery disease. Other types include heart attack, arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure. Often it is not diagnosed till a person experiences symptoms of a heart problem. Therefore heart disease is often referred to ask the “silent killer”.

Why is Heart Disease Awareness Month so important?

For many years, heart disease was the leading cause of death in women in the United States – with 301,280 lives or 1 in 5 female deaths being related to heart disease. This beats out cancer, car accidents, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Nearly 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect of some kind. Some can be treated easily and some cannot. While heart disease is not preventable, knowing the warning signs or knowing your family history can start your fight back before it even begins.

How can I raise awareness? How can I help?

There are many ways anyone can support heart families or raise awareness for heart disease. More support means more awareness. The more awareness gained, the more funds for research are raised. This all adds up to new heart families being as prepared as they can be should someone in their family develop one or gain a family member who already has one. Ongoing research includes finding new medications that eliminate the causes of heart disease.

National Wear Red Day is Friday, February 4th   

This day takes place on the first Friday of February.  While it may seem like wearing red is not a big deal or won’t do much for research, it shows support! When a family is struggling with a new diagnosis and may not be ready to reach out, wearing red tells them “Hey! I support you!”

You might brighten their day just a little bit. Who doesn’t want to feel like they have a team in their corner?

Talk to your family!

Ask what they know about heart disease, if there is a family history, and find out if they know the warning signs. Talking about it may seem scary and that’s ok! Talking about it early might prevent something bigger and scarier later. My great-grandmother died of heart failure when I was an infant, so I have to mark that in family history sections.

Stop by and visit Mighty Max and his family on Instagram.

Run by mom Cristina, this account follows Max, who was diagnosed in utero at 20 weeks with a heart defect and received a heart transplant at 13 months old. Mom leaves nothing uncovered about the reality of raising a child with a heart defect along with two other children. She also shows the beauty from the ashes of how far Max has come since his transplant almost three years ago and their gratitude to his donor’s family. She also posts some fun ideas for kids to do at home.  And they regularly visit Walt Disney World being locals, so it isn’t unusual to spot Mickey Mouse on her page.

Know the warning signs!

Read the signs at your doctor’s office or the pamphlets given out when you leave your yearly physical. Know what your risks are. Ask your doctor what signs you should be looking for. If these options are not available to you, checking out the American Heart Association website will have a ton of information. It might seem boring but just a few minutes of time could help you recognize signs in yourself and your family.

Listen to your heart.

Heart disease might sound like an old person’s disease, but it is not. It does not pick and choose who it will happen to. Some categories of people may be at higher risk but it still does not pick just one category. As the top cause of death for women in the US, heart disease is a fight that we should work to eliminate as much as we can. Listening to your own heart and paying attention to the early signs is the easiest way for you to fight.

Grandmother Willow (points for those who get that reference!) tells us to “listen with your heart, you will understand”.

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