For many of us, February is a time to show love and gratitude to our friends and family. It is a month full of cupids, flowers, and candy hearts. But for organizations like Live Well Allegheny Community Partner, American Heart Association Greater Pittsburgh Region (AHA), February is a time to remind Americans about the importance of heart health.
February began as American Heart Month in 1963 when Congress officially recognized the need to focus national attention on heart health. The federally-designated event serves to celebrate the progress that has been made and focus on the work that must continue to reduce the deadly risks and consequences of cardiovascular disease, including stroke.
Promoting heart health is essential to improving overall health in our communities. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in 1-in-4 deaths each year. Recent changes to blood pressure guidelines emphasize the importance of heart health. In November, health officials published new guidelines for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. A group of nine health organizations, including AHA, redefined the standard, lowering the guideline for high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80. The change in guidelines is meant to help people take steps to control their blood pressure earlier to avoid other health risks, such as heart disease.
Locally, AHA works to remind residents in the Greater Pittsburgh Region of the risks of cardiovascular diseases, and ways to reduce their risk. AHA provides people of all ages the tools they need to take control of their health. AHA works with corporate and community-based partners to implement programs in-and-around Allegheny County, especially in communities that have the greatest need for prevention, education, and health intervention. In partnership with community partners, AHA implements programs like Healthy BP for All and Challenge: BP.
Through Healthy BP for All, AHA works with 412 Food Rescue to provide heart healthy education and healthy cooking classes to 60 communities in Allegheny County. Additionally, AHA, in partnership with Live Well Allegheny, reaches communities through their Challenge: BP program. Challenge: BP encourages communities, organizations, and workplaces to take the challenge to help raise awareness and lower blood pressure of residents through evidence-based resources like Workplace Health Solutions and Check. Change. Control.
This February, AHA is using American Heart Month to emphasize the importance of maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle. Throughout the month, AHA is spreading awareness of cardiovascular disease and promoting prevention of such diseases by providing information about heart healthy activities. On February 2nd, AHA is encouraging people to wear red for National Wear Red Day, which takes place every year on the first Friday in February. National Wear Red Day raises awareness and supports women in the fight against heart disease. By increasing awareness, speaking out about heart disease, and empowering women to reduce their risk for cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, AHA saves thousands of lives each year.
Additionally, AHA and UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute are hosting a free health screening event in honor of National Wear Red Day. The event is being held on February 2nd from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the U.S. Steel Tower, Concourse Level (600 Grant St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219). The event includes, blood pressure screening, cholesterol screening, glucose screening, heart health information, risk factor guidelines, heart-healthy recipes, and more! If you are concerned about your heart health, join AHA on February 2nd to take the first step in taking control of your health!