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February | American Heart Month

Red heart with a stethoscope
Red heart with a stethoscope | Image by Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Plenty has been going on across North Texas to boost cardiovascular health awareness this February, American Heart Month.

Efforts to put heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., into focus have been in full swing since American Heart Month began on February 1.

North Texas health organizations, municipal authorities, nonprofits, and schools have been getting into the action by raising funds for the American Heart Association (AHA), organizing workshops to raise awareness about the major risk factors behind heart disease, and hosting free heart health screenings.

“American Heart Month is a reminder that awareness is our armor,” explained Annabel Luna-Smith, community liaison and project manager with the University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth, according to a news release.

“It’s about early detection, healthy choices, and shattering the silence that surrounds heart disease. It’s about not being silent, not surrendering, and working on winning this battle, one pulsing heart at a time.”

HSC organized a free symposium on February 9 and a series of open panels to discuss cardiovascular disease, the genetic, racial, and ethnic disparities in its treatment, and ways to prevent what is known as the silent killer.

This February’s American Heart Month has focused especially on women’s heart health. Although the AHA estimates that around 45% of women over 20 years old live with cardiovascular disease in some form, they are less likely to receive CPR or survive a sudden cardiac arrest than men.

A big part of this is that women and men usually experience different heart attack symptoms, which the former are more likely not to recognize and thus ignore. While men tend to have chest pain, women might experience shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain.

American Heart Month has also focused on children, with AHA recommending that cardiovascular disease prevention efforts begin by age 5. Several North Texas schools are participating in AHA’s Kids Heart Challenge, which has been organized with the support of the NFL. Alongside learning how to perform hands-only CPR, students are taught how to keep their hearts healthy through regular exercise and healthy eating.

As detailed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several major risk factors associated with heart disease, including tobacco use, high alcohol consumption, a diet that is high in saturated fat, salt, and cholesterol, and a sedentary lifestyle. Carrying excess weight or being obese can significantly heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease and more, as extensively covered in The Dallas Express. Given that obesity rates have risen among young adults and children, these age groups are seeing an increase in adverse health outcomes.

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