Feb 12 2012

February is American Heart Month: A Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

February is American Heart Month; a month to spread awareness about the importance of heart health. Each year, countless American families are impacted by heart disease and stroke. Although its risk factors can be prevented or controlled, it is still the leading cause of death for all Americans, and accounts for $1 out of every $6 dollars spent on health care.  Fortunately, there are many simple steps we can take to prevent heart disease such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and not smoking.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working with both public and private partners to raise awareness of heart disease through vital research investments and public health programs. The Million Hearts Initiative takes aim at this disease, with a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. Other efforts, like the HeartTruth, which addresses women’s heart health, and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which confronts childhood obesity by helping children choose healthy foods and stay active, work to provide people with resources and ways to make heart healthy changes in their everyday lives .

And thanks to the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, new health plans must now cover recommended preventive services, including blood pressure screening for all adults and cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk, cost-free.

This month, as we take time to educate ourselves about the risks of heart disease, and recognize the efforts of medical researchers and healthcare professionals dedicated to prevention, early detection, and effective treatment, consider what steps you and your family can take to promote and adopt a heart healthy lifestyle.

For more information on American Heart Month, please visit:  http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.html

For more information on women and heart disease, please visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/ or http://womenshealth.gov/heartattack/  .  

To learn more about the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, please visit: http://www.letsmove.gov/

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343 
Links and information:

A. Million Hearts:  Million Hearts™ is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years. Million Hearts™ brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke.

B. Heart Truth: The Heart Truth marks a decade of commitment to women’s heart health. During February’s American Heart Month, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reaffirms its commitment to increasing awareness about heart disease among women and helping women take steps to reduce their own personal risk of developing heart disease

C. The Make the Call. Don’t Miss a Beat   campaign is a national public education campaign that aims to educate, engage, and empower women and their families to learn the seven most common symptoms of a heart attack and encourage them to call 9-1-1 as soon as those symptoms arise. A woman suffers a heart attack every 90 seconds in the United States. Yet according to a 2009 American Heart Association survey only half of women indicated they would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a heart attack and few were aware of the most common heart attack symptoms.(http://womenshealth.gov/heartattack/)

Know the symptoms of a heart attack :

1. Chest pain or discomfort

2. Unusual upper body discomfort

3. Shortness of breath

4. Breaking out in a cold sweat

5. Unusual or unexplained fatigue (tiredness)

6. Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

7. Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach)


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