With February comes American Heart Month and the chance to spread awareness about preventing heart disease. This wellness blog will give your department some statistics regarding the prevalence of heart disease in our communities, as well as some program ideas to help combat the problem.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women - with 1 in 4 deaths each year being attributed to it. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 735,000 people each year suffer a heart attack.
Heart disease is commonly known to be associated with a variety of risk factors, including stress, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and poor diet. Although there are additional risk factors such as family history and heart valve issues, the majority of these factors are controllable by individual lifestyle changes. This is where your department can make a huge difference.
One strategy to prevent heart disease, as recommended by the CDC, is to maintain a healthy physical activity level. The surgeon general recommends two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity for adults.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also an effective strategy for preventing heart disease. The CDC suggests limiting sodium and sugar in your diet and increasing the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Chances are, your parks and recreation department offers some space or programs to help get your community active! Since physical activity is a key strategy to prevent heart disease, February is a great time to encourage your community to utilize these spaces! MillionHearts.com put together a lot of great resources, including social media posts and informational flyers. Use these resources to spread the word about American Heart Month!
Another great resource is the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Toolkit. It contains great resources to share with your respective communities, including sample social media tweets, infographics to share in community spaces, and ideas to get your workplace involved.
Your department could also suggest specific programs targeted towards improving heart health. Existing physical activity and healthy eating programs could be advertised with an emphasis on the heart-healthy aspects they provide. In program guides, a simple “heart” icon can be placed next to said programs to allow them to be easily accessible. You can also compile a listing of these programs and create a heart-themed flyer for them to be distributed on!
A number of departments offer their staff the opportunity to become CPR and AED certified. If your department does not offer this training (or hasn’t for some time), American Heart Month is a great time to consider. The skills taught in a training course like this could help save someone’s life. To find your local American Red Cross, as well as instructors in your area, please click this link.
Until next time,