When we talk about the heart of something, we often 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 certainly come up for examination.

While the observances of 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.

So Many Thoughts and Feelings Connect

Located at the center of our physical being, the job the heart does ceaselessly as we live, and the symbol it became in ancient times of a person’s storehouse of love, compassion, humanity and enthusiasm – all these meanings come into play during American Heart Month.

And we celebrate 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.

Wear 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 3, 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?

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 was to make a difference that you’re sure to find at least one that fits.

A Few Changes Can Reduce Your Risk

For each of us, even a small, consistent change in what we eat and how we move 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, 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. And if you don’t have a family doctor, then schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine to be sure just where you stand. Call us at 843-815-6468.