February is American Heart Month

(Photo supplied/American Heart Association)

February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging Hoosiers and other Americans to join the battle against heart disease.

American Heart Month has a different feel to it this year because of the coronavirus.

“We’re seeing two things related to the heart when it comes to the coronavirus. One, we just don’t know the long-term effects of how it’s going to affect the heart. We’ve seen preliminary reports of people having myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart,” said Tim Harms, senior director of communications for the American Heart Association.”The other thing that we’ve seen a lot of is that people have been hesitant to go seek help if they are having signs of a heart attack. They’re having chest pain and know something is wrong, but they’ve got fear of going to the hospital because they don’t want to be exposed to COVID.”

Harms says you should go to the hospital if you are experiencing those symptoms, especially since hospitals have taken advanced, precautionary measures to better protect themselves and patients from coronavirus. That’s why the AHA has begun a campaign called “Don’t Die of Doubt.”

Harms says Indiana is on par with the rest of the country in one key area.

“If you look at heart health in general, we’re on par with the rest of the nation where 1 in 3 deaths are from heart disease. In Indiana, that translates to about 17,000 people. That’s big enough to fill Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis,” said Harms.

The American Heart Association funds more than $180 million of research nationally, including more than $5 million at universities in Indiana.

“We fund research at IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Ball State currently. We’ve got that money spread around to some great programs,” said Harms.

Thanks to advancements in treatment, mortality rates from heart disease have dropped more than 50 percent in the last 30 years.

As for ways you can boost your heart health, the American Heart Association recommends the following:

  • Don’t smoke/quit smoking
  • Be physically active (30 minutes a day/150 minutes a week of exercise)
  • Eat a healthy diet

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