February Is American Heart Month

Philip Rosenau |

Despite competition from COVID-19 and cancer, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2020, 696,962 people in the U.S. died from heart disease—more than one every minute—for a daily average of 1,904 deaths from heart disease.

More recent figures available in the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker report that the daily death average for heart disease in November 2021 was 2,088. That figure compares to November 2021’s death rates of 1,640 from cancer and 1,110 from COVID-19. Heart disease can also lead to more severe cases of COVID-19 and a higher risk of death from the virus, according to the CDC. American Heart Month is designed to raise awareness of the risks, and reduce them when possible.

The inspiration behind American Heart Month—and what you can do

With Valentine’s Day in February—and hearts as a universal symbol for love—it’s the perfect time to focus on heart health. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the proclamation making February American Heart Month in 1964—nine years after he had his first heart attack in 1955 at age 47. In 1973, at age 64, he suffered a fatal heart attack on his Texas ranch.

Raising awareness is especially important during the pandemic

During the pandemic, more people have engaged in unhealthy lifestyle choices that can contribute to heart disease, such as drinking more alcohol, eating less healthy foods, and exercising less. On top of that, cardiovascular issues can be even more frightening when people are hesitant to add to the COVID-related burdens health-care workers are facing.

In its Don’t Die of Doubt message, the American Heart Association (AHA) emphasizes that hospitals are still the safest place to go when you have a medical emergency. They recommend that if you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms, call 911:

- Chest discomfort that can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain

- Pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms, and/or your back, neck, jaw, or stomach

- Shortness of breath—with or without chest discomfort

- Breaking out in a cold sweat, and/or experiencing nausea or lightheadedness

- Numbness or drooping on side of face

- A numb or weak arm, and the inability to raise both arms equally

- Slurred speech, and/or inability to speak or repeat a simple sentence correctly

- Signs of cardiac arrest, including sudden loss of responsiveness, and abnormal breathing

Wear red on Friday, February 4 to show support—and take care of your health

The first Friday of American Heart Month is National Wear Red Day. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute encourages everyone to wear red to help raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.—and is largely preventable. The AHA recognizes the day with its Go Red for Women initiative to raise awareness that one in three women are diagnosed with heart disease annually.

The best way to celebrate American Heart Month, though, is taking care of your own health—and the health of those you love. Take advantage of these resources provided by the CDC to learn more about healthy choices.




Important Disclosures

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.

This material was prepared by LPL Financial.

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