In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the first ever American Heart Month: “It is essential to the health and well-being of our nation that our citizens be made aware of the medical, social, and economic aspects of the problem of cardiovascular diseases, and the measures being taken to combat them.”
The tradition has continued every February since then, and the need to raise awareness about cardiovascular health remains urgent: heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year.
Women may be particularly at risk, both because the warning signs of heart disease can be different for women than for men and because of common misconceptions about heart disease risk, such as the idea that heart disease only affects men or older adults. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills one in three American women—but the American Heart Association (AHA) says 80% of those deaths could be prevented with education and action. The AHA’s Go Red for Women campaign offers many resources to help women learn about risk factors, symptoms, and prevention of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
- For a more-in depth look at the topic, check out our March 2013 CE, “Update on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women,” which provides a comprehensive overview of the AHA’s guidelines for preventing CVD in women.
- Also, see our May 2015 CE “Atrial Fibrillation: Updated Management Guidelines and Nursing Implications” to review recently updated guidelines for managing atrial fibrillation, the most common chronic cardiac arrhythmia. —Diane Szulecki, associate editor