February is Heart Health Month

Cardiovascular disease is among the top three diseases in men and women worldwide. But as Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, reminds us, heart disease is preventable and controllable. During American Heart Month, Goldie reminds hygienists to share information about heart disease with patients and offers some programs available through the American Heart Association to address the disease for women.

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Heart Disease is Responsible for Nearly One-Third of Deaths Worldwide

Did you know an estimated 17 MILLION people die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) globally every year?

Cardiovascular disease is among the top three diseases in men and women worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, the burden of coronary heart disease is meant to increase by nearly 43% globally from 1990 to 2020.

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To urge Americans to join the battle against these diseases, since 1963, the U.S. Congress has required the President to proclaim February "American Heart Month." The American Heart Association (AHA) led initial efforts to develop an annual American Heart Month.(1)

Each year, the AHA, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies, brings together the most up–to–date statistics on heart disease, stroke, other vascular diseases, and their risk factors and presents them in its Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update.

The Statistical Update is a valuable resource for researchers, clinicians, healthcare policy makers, media professionals, the lay public, and many others who seek the best national data available on disease morbidity and mortality and the risks, quality of care, medical procedures and operations, and costs associated with the management of these diseases in a single document.(2)

Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics - 2013 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association is available for viewing.(2)

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In this vein, urgent and early treatment of acute ischemic stroke holds a better promise of better neurological outcomes after acute ischemic stroke. A new guideline is focused for the multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals including pre-hospital personnel (EMS), ED physicians, nurses, inpatient nurses, stroke team members, hospitalists, general medicine physicians, hospital administrators, and ancillary healthcare personnel.(3)

A thorough discussion about all aspects of acute care is included in this guideline. The authors present an overview of the current evidence and management recommendations for evaluation and treatment of adults with acute ischemic stroke. The intended audiences are prehospital care providers, physicians, allied health professionals, and hospital administrators responsible for the care of acute ischemic stroke patients within the first 48 hours from stroke onset. These guidelines supersede the prior 2007 guidelines and 2009 updates.

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Go Red for Women is a program through the American Heart Association to bring attention to heart disease in women. National Wear Red Day was Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, but could be any day you plan to host an event. It is the 10-year anniversary of this program.

In 2003, the American Heart Association 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 dispel these myths of heart disease as the No. 1 killer of women, the American Heart Association, along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute created National Wear Red Day to raise awareness of this critical issue. Each year, on the first Friday in February, millions of women and men come together to wear red, take action and commit to fighting this deadly disease.

Since the first National Wear Red Day 10 years ago, tremendous strides have been made in the fight against heart disease in women, including:

•21% fewer women dying from heart disease
•23% more women aware that it's their No. 1 health threat
•Publishing of gender-specific results, established differences in symptoms and responses to medications and women-specific guidelines for prevention and treatment
•Legislation to help end gender disparities(4)

More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.(5) But 80 percent of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. Learn all you can about heart attacks and stroke.

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Signs of a Heart Attack in Women
1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1. Get to a hospital right away.(5)

Also know the signs of stroke and TIAs (transient ischemic attacks):

1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause(5)

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Learn about health risk factors: cholesterol; diabetes; heart attack and stroke; and high blood pressure. Also learn about healthy behaviors, such as: being active; body mass index (BMI); healthy eating; stopping smoking; and share the facts self-test.(5)

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Remember, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventableandcontrollable.(6) Have a plan for prevention, and share information about heart disease with your patients. Visit 28 Days to a Healthier Heart, and follow the Million Hearts initiative, 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.(7,8)

Do your part to make your family, friends, patients, and community a better and healthier place to live!

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References
1. http://my.americanheart.org/professional/index.jsp.
2. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, Bravata DM, Dai S, Ford ES, Fox CS, Franco S, Fullerton HJ, Gillespie C, Hailpern SM, Heit JA, Howard VJ, Huffman MD, Kissela BM, Kittner SJ, Lackland DT, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Magid D, Marcus GM, Marelli A, Matchar DB, McGuire DK, Mohler ER, Moy CS, Mussolino ME, Nichol G, Paynter NP, Schreiner PJ, Sorlie PD, Stein J, Turan TN, Virani SS, Wong ND, Woo D, Turner MB; on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013; 127:e6-e245.
3. Stroke. Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke. 2013: published online before print January 31, 2013, 10.1161/STR.0b013e318284056a. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/01/31/STR.0b013e318284056a.
4. http://goredforwomen.org/wearredday/about/.
5. http://www.goredforwomen.org/wearredday/resources/documents/2012.10/Heart_Health_Guide_11513_HR.pdf.
6. http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/.
7. http://www.cdc.gov/salt/healthy_heart_tips.htm.

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Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS

To read previous RDH eVillage FOCUS articles by Maria Perno Goldie, go to articles.

To read more about heart disease, click here.

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