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GO RED. WEAR RED. February is American Heart Month

Each year, heart disease kills more Americans than cancer. In recent years, cardiovascular (heart disease) risk in women has been increasing and has killed more women than breast cancer; Research has shown heart complications can start originating during adolescence, making heart education and prevention efforts necessary from childhood.

February is the American Heart Association’s national Heart Month. GO RED. WEAR RED. Their mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. In honor of national Heart month, the Community Health center, Inc. of Meriden is hosting a free Heart health workshop on ways to reduce the risks associated with heart disease and stroke. Read about different Heart Disease conditions, how they are caused & prevented, and ways to improve your heart health.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a higher risk for heart attack or stroke.

What is Plaque buildup?

  • A combined buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances in a person’s coronary arteries
  • Coronary arteries supply the heart with blood
  • Atherosclerosis is when arteries harden due to the buildup of plaque

Types of heart disease include heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, and heart valve problems. Other common heart conditions are listed below:

  • Arrhythmia
    • An arrhythmia is an unusual heart rhythm.
    • Arrhythmias can occur in nearly anyone, becoming more common as people age.
    • Arrhythmias can produce a wide range of symptoms, from harmless to life-threatening.
  • Heart Attack
    • Occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely.
    • This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly become thicker and harder from a buildup plaque
    • About every 34 seconds, someone in the United States suffers from a heart attack
  • Cholesterol
    • There are two types of cholesterol: "good" and "bad."
    • Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food
    • Too much of one type — or not enough of another — can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack or stroke
    • Your diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level
  • High Blood Pressure
    • The organs in your body need oxygen to survive. Oxygen is carried through the body by the blood
    • Blood Pressure is the result of two forces — The first force occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system. The second force is created as the heart rests between heart beats.
    • Over time, if the force of the blood flow is regularly high, the tissue that makes up the walls of arteries gets stretched beyond its healthy limit. This creates problems in several ways:
      • Vascular weaknesses & Scarring *the vascular system is a network of blood vessels
      • Increased risk of blood clots
      • Increased plaque build-up
    • High Blood Pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and heart & Kidney Failure.
  • Diabetes
    • There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes
    • Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes
    • America’s youth and young adults are developing type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate.
    • During the development of type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks certain cells (called beta cells) in the pancreas
    • The American Heart Association estimates that 59.7 million Americans, 20 years and older have prediabetes.(before diabetes can be diagnosed)
    • Long-term damage to the Heart “cardiovascular system” may occur while a person has prediabetes
  • Stroke
    • A stroke is the rapid loss of brain function(s) due to trouble in the blood supply to the brain.
    • Several types of heart disease are risk factors for stroke.
    • Heart disease and stroke share many of the same risk factors
      • Cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, and being overweight or obese
    • A stroke can cause serious brain injury and is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States.

Ways to improve Heart Health: Although heart disease and stroke report for the huge majority of deaths each year in America, you can do things to lower your risk

  • The American Heart Association recommends that heart attack prevention begin by age 20.
    • Avoid Tobacco
    • Become more Active
    • Choose Good Nutrition
  • Losing weight, eating healthy and increasing physical activity can dramatically reduce the progression of type 2 diabetes
  • Take all medications exactly as prescribed
  • Know your blood pressure
    • High blood pressure may not have any symptoms. The only way you will know if your pressure is high is to have it checked.
  • See your doctor regularly
  • Take it day by day

There are eight main ways you can reduce risk factors for Heart Disease:

  • Eat a better diet, which may include reducing salt
  • Enjoy regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Comply with medication prescriptions
  • If you drink, limit alcohol

Go Red for Women:

In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention. In fact, many even dismissed it as an “older man’s disease.” To raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red for Women — a passionate, emotional, social program designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health. To learn more about this program, visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org/HEARTORG.

CHC of Meriden Hosts Heart Month Workshop on Thursday, February 23, 2012

The event will provide tips on healthy eating habits which can decrease cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as opportunities to meet with health experts; participants will also get the chance to enjoy healthy cooking demonstrations, heart smart breakfast recipes and healthy seasonings blends.