The month of February is American Heart Month and includes National Wear Red Day. The Scotland County Health Department reminds area residents that both of these campaigns seek to remind Americans and Missourians to focus on their hearts and work together to build a culture of health in the state.
Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), a physician with 30 years of experience in obstetrics and gynecology, notes the importance of heart health in mothers. “I strongly encourage people to see heart health as an integral part of pregnancy-related care,” says Williams. “Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Missouri mothers and congenital heart defect is the leading birth defect in our country. Keeping mothers healthy and screening for potential problems as babies develop are as key to prenatal care as taking vitamins and getting regular checkups.”
The American Heart Association is hoping to bring awareness to the issue this coming Friday, February 2, by encouraging everyone to “Go Red for Women” on National Wear Red Day, then share photos with friends and colleagues with the social media tag #WearRedandGive.
Chair of the Missouri Women’s Health Council and Go Red Ambassador Teri Ackerson is acutely aware of the importance of heart health. “As a congenital heart defect and stroke survivor, as well as a Registered Nurse that specializes in neuroscience, the recognition of heart health for the month of February gives me the opportunity to express my gratitude for all of the positive changes we have made with medications, technologies and therapies to improve my quality of life through research,” she says. “It also gives me the opportunity to educate and advocate in the community for prevention. Heart disease is the number one killer in our great state and stroke is the number one cause of long term disability; 80 percent of these issues are preventable.
“We have made great strides, but we need to continue to work to decrease mortality, and increase quality of life,” Ackerson continues. “Red is more than a color to me…it inspires, and encourages. It brings promise of hope for a cure.”
DHSS’ efforts to address cardiovascular disease will extend beyond February thanks to a new collaboration with the National Governors Association. The department and the state of Missouri were selected by the National Governors Association to participate in a learning collaborative called Improving Health in Rural America: Addressing the Leading Causes of Death. Missouri is one of six states selected.
The Missouri delegation, consisting of members from the Governor’s Office, Missouri Primary Care Association and DHSS, will develop and implement strategies to address heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in both rural and urban Missouri. As part of the National Governors Association initiative, Missouri will work to address these preventable factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity.
Heart disease can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and death. Risk can be reduced or prevented with a few simple lifestyle changes, such as:
· Maintain a normal weight;
· Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables;
· Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days;
· Avoid tobacco products and limit alcohol intake;
· Get regular medical check-ups and screenings;
· Follow your doctor’s instructions for medications, treatment, and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
More information about heart disease can be found at: http://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/chronic/heartdisease/index.php.