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February is American Heart Month!

This annual celebration started in 1963 to encourage Americans to support heart health and raise awareness of heart disease.

Go Red For Women! This day has been put on by The American Heart Association since 2004 targeting women to focus on risk factors, warning signs and education on prevention & wellness.

Wear red on February 7th to celebrate National Heart Day showing your awareness of women's heart health.

Start your heart health focus today!

Here are some basics about heart disease, risk factors, warning signs and heart health:

Types of Heart Disease

  • Coronary artery disease: plaque buildup in artery walls causing a thickening and stiffness to the walls, creating an inhibition of blood flow through arteries which carry oxygen to organs and tissues

  • Heart attack: The blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot

  • Stroke: interruption of blood supply to the brain causing damage, usually from a blood clot

  • Cardiac arrest: sudden, unexpected loss of heart function

  • Congestive heart failure: chronic condition where the heart does not pump blood the way it should

  • Congenital heart disease: heart abnormality that develops before birth

  • Arrhythmia: heart beats with an abnormal rhythm with an irregular pattern, too fast or too slow

  • Heart Valve problems: heart valves don’t function properly

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a term covering heart disease ( see above), as well as, problems with blood vessels and the circulatory system

  • Peripheral Artery Disease: circulation is impaired due to narrowing of blood vessels due to a buildup of plaque

  • High blood pressure: the force of blood against artery walls is too high

Based on research from the American Heart Association:

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States

1:3 deaths are due to heart disease

Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of deaths at 43.2%, followed by stroke at 16.9%, high blood pressure at 9.8%

Total direct medical costs are around $351.2 billion and projected to increase to $749 billion by 2035

What puts me at a higher Risk?

  • Smoking

  • Physical inactivity

  • Unhealthy diet, obesity

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Stress

  • Men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older

Warning Signs To Watch For

  • Pain, discomfort, pressure, tightness, numbness/burning in your chest, arms, shoulders, back, upper abdomen or jaw

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart palpitations

  • Weakness or fatigue

  • Upset stomach or vomiting

  • Indigestion or heartburn

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

  • A physical therapist can help you address your risk factors

  • A PT can create a safe exercise routine with aerobic exercise and strength training.

  • Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and blood vessels, improve oxygen flow, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol & reduce your risk of diabetes.

  • The American Heart Association recommends that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes a week at a vigorous pace.

  • Strength training can help decrease fatty tissue in the body and your PT can teach you proper form.

  • A PT can help educate you on your blood pressure & target heart rate for working out

  • A PT can guide you toward a professional nutritionist to address your diet

  • A PT can recommend a local cardiologist who will provide appropriate testing, properly prescribe medications, if needed, and monitor your heart.

  • Cardiac PT is an essential part of recovery after a stroke or heart attack in early and long term recovery

Happy American Heart Month!


Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, Chamberlain AM, Chang AR, Cheng S, Das SR, Delling FN, Djousse L,Elkind MSV, Ferguson JF, Fornage M, Jordan LC, Khan SS, Kissela BM, Knutson KL, Kwan TW, Lackland DT, Lewis TT, Lichtman JH, Longenecker CT, Loop MS, Lutsey PL, Martin SS, Matsushita K, Moran AE, Mussolino ME, O’Flaherty M, Pandey A, Perak AM, Rosamond WD, Roth GA, Sampson UKA, Satou GM, Schroeder EB, Shah SH, Spartano NL, Stokes A, Tirschwell DL, Tsao CW, Turakhia MP, VanWagner LB, Wilkins JT, Wong SS, Virani SS; on behalf of the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics - 2019 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print January 31, 2019]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000659.

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