February Is American Heart Month

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, a month brought forth by the American Heart Association to amplify awareness for the state of heart health and heart disease across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States.

More than Just Valentine’s Day

Last year, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’ Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote an article about the importance of American Heart Month and cardiovascular health in her article “More than Valentine’s Day: Taking Care of our Hearts.” Advocating for heart disease awareness, she explained, “February is not just a time when many people fondly think of those close to their heart. It is also a time to take care of your heart.” You can read the full article on the HHS’s Health Care blog.

Taking the Nation’s Pulse

The American Heart Association recently published a study that indicated the top advances in heart disease and stroke research from 2012. The study notes resuscitation and cell regeneration as two of the greatest advances of that year, and goes on to outline the year’s top 10 medical advances, which include the following:

  1. Extended CPR saves lives

  2. Biopsied heart cells improved heart function and reduced scars

  3. Progress for children in transplant bridging and Kawasaki Disease

  4. Ideal cardiovascular health practices lead to longer life, lower risk

  5. ECHO screening for rheumatic heart disease

Read more to find out about the advances being made in cardiovascular health and the impact they have on the nursing community.

Cardiac Vascular Nurse Practitioners can make an important impact on heart health. The main duties of cardiovascular nurses are as follows:

  • Aid in assessing and providing patients with overall heart health education

  • Become well-versed in issues of congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and arrhythmias

  • Manage and provide training for anticoagulation therapy and electrophysiology treatment

Starting a career in cardiovascular nursing is a great way to give back to the community and ensure the nation’s heart health. Click here to find out more about how you can become a cardiac vascular nurse.

Wear your Heart on Your Sleeve

This month is full of a number of great events and initiatives to raise awareness for heart disease and heart health, especially within the nursing community. Organizations such as the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) are celebrating American Heart Month and sharing great ways that both the nursing community and American public can show and share their support. Here is a list of ways you can show your support for keeping America’s hearts healthy:

  • Wear Red – According to PCNA, February 1st is National Wear Red Day, created to call attention to the #1 cause of death in Women. Take this day to wear red and visibly show your support for heart health

  • Take Action! – Join AHA’s nationwide advocacy movement You’re the Cure to support healthy lives and healthy hearts

  • Be One in a Million – Join the Million Hearts Initiative, an awareness initiative that’s available for individuals, health care providers, patient organizations, and state/local health officials. Launched by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2011, the initiative vows to “prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.”

  • Join the Online Community – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a collection of online tools and social media badges to help spread awareness on the internet. Click here to find out more about how you can use social media to raise awareness for American Heart Month.