The start of February marked the beginning of a very special public health awareness event. It is American Heart Month, and with heart disease as prevalent as it is in the United States, it has never been a more important time to take notice of your heart’s health. Over the course of this month, people will need to re-evaluate their lifestyles to see if they are taking proper care of their heart.
Raise Awareness for Heart Health during February
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be working collaboratively with private and public partners in order to help raise further awareness of heart disease and get more Americans to take better care of their tickers. All throughout February, they will be introducing a number of new health programs and heart disease research projects. For instance, you may have heard of the Million Hearts initiative before? Well, this represents a national push to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. However, this can only be accomplished by educating health care providers and getting more organizations around the country to make fighting heart disease a bigger priority.
More Women at Risk for Heart Disease
Also during this year’s American Heart Month, public health officials would like to reach more women who may be at risk for heart disease. Currently, there are a number of national programs, like Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! and The Heart Truth initiatives, which provide very important information on heart disease and maintaining a healthy heart. By making these initiatives more accessible, more Americans will have access to the resources they need to make some heart healthy adjustments to their lifestyles.
In addition to these national initiatives, there is a new Spanish-language heart-healthy campaign that will be launched during American Heart Month. Health care officials would really like to reach a larger percentage of the Spanish speaking community. More specifically, they are trying to encourage more women in these communities to call 9-1-1 if any of their family members or friends are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack.
Heart Disease is the No. 1 Cause of Death in the U.S.
Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death amongst both men and women in the United States. This is a serious issue which will take collaboration on a national level in order to change. For those of you who are still not convinced, you should think of it this way: heart disease claims more lives on an annual basis than diabetes, COPD, lung cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease combined.
However, there is a silver lining when it comes to heart disease, because most risk factors like obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, and lack of exercise can be prevented or altered. Eliminating these risk factors and living an active lifestyle could actually reduce your risk of a heart attack by up to 80 percent. With the Affordable Care Act now in place, preventative services such as smoking cessations, cholesterol and blood pressure screening, and weight-loss counseling are accessible to millions of Americans with Medicare and private health insurance at no out-of-pocket cost.
Creating a Health Insurance Marketplace
In a statement made at the beginning of the month, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services said, “We are working with states to create Health Insurance Marketplaces, where uninsured and underinsured Americans can compare affordable health plans based on price, benefits, quality, and other important features and choose one that best suits their needs.” If you or someone close to you is currently in need of health insurance, you can visit www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about this new health care marketplace.