At the center of our physical being, the heart works ceaselessly as we live. The heart is a symbol, too, representing a person’s storehouse of love, compassion, humanity, and enthusiasm. All these meanings come into play during American Heart Month. While other health-related months are occasions for raising awareness, promoting research, or increasing our commitment to care, Heart Month seems to mean all of that and more

Many of us observe American Heart Month with mixed feelings, because heart disease is our deadliest killer. The cause of one in every four deaths, heart disease takes more than 600,000 Americans away from us every year. Just about everybody has lost someone dear to this disease.

A Few Changes Can Reduce Your Risk

For each of us, even a small, consistent change in what we eat and how we exercise can make a difference. The Department of Health and Human Services makes suggestions that are as simple as ABCs. Aspirin: Ask your family physician if a low-dose aspirin regimen is right for you. It can reduce the risk of heart attack for many people. Blood pressure control: Know your numbers and get grooved in a diet and exercise rhythm that works for you. Cholesterol: Monitor your levels and ask your doctor how to get them where they ought to be and keep them there.

And the little “s” that makes ABCs plural is actually a very big one: Smoking, which is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease. If you haven’t quit, it’s time. If you have tried, keep trying. Get your family doctor on your side, because research is conclusive that people who get some kind of help and support are more successful at kicking cigarettes than folks who try to go it alone.

Red on Friday

Signifying awareness, concern, and support, the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women suggest we wear red on the first Friday of February. This year, it’s February 2, and it might be a good idea to consider that Friday just a focal point. Don’t we wear pink all through October for breast cancer awareness?

When we talk about the “heart” of something, we are referring not only to the center, but also to the essence, the character, the nature of the thing. When we celebrate American Heart Month in February, those extra meanings are very much part of what we’re thinking about.

Awareness though is just the gateway to action. The actions that go with awareness during Heart Month are up to all of us. There are so many ways to make a difference that you’re sure to find at least one that fits.

Whether Heart Month prompts a feeling of concern or gratitude for you, why not schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine to be sure just where you stand. Call us at 843-815-6468.