The Importance of American Heart Month

How this month came to be and what it means for students’ health and awareness today.

The human heart performs many vital life-sustaining functions.

Photo Courtesy of Ali Hajiluyi on UNSPLASH

The human heart performs many vital life-sustaining functions.

Lara Baker and Charlotte Lemeunier

Every second month of the year since 1964, American Heart Month is celebrated. February represents a time for raising awareness across the country of cautionary methods and healthy lifestyle options that guide us to better heart health. This annual recognition of the importance of maintaining a healthy heart was established by former president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson under Presidential Proclamation 3566. The month of February is a time when all people should focus and continue to educate themselves on the importance of heart health.
Focusing on your cardiovascular health has never been so important. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and individuals with poor cardiovascular health are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID -19.
A healthy heart is at the focal point to overall good health. It is responsible for distributing nutrients, blood, breathing, and metabolites that are needed for basic human function. Maintaining a healthy heart comes directly from a healthy lifestyle. In response to a survey taken by Mamaroneck High School students, results show that only 33.3% of students eat a well-balanced diet “from time to time” when asked, “Do you think you maintain a healthy diet?” Regarding this statistic, it is inferable that many high school students don’t have consistently healthy eating habits. Implementing a well-rounded way of life young can set you up for success when you’re older. Assistant Professor of Genomics and Genetic Sciences at Mount Sinai, Dr. Hopkins, comments “A healthy heart/healthy lifestyle is really important to make sure you can do the things you want when you want throughout your lifespan. It is really hard to worry about how your diet/behavior will impact you in 20 or 40 years, but if one just follows a simple rule for metabolic health, “all things in moderation” as a guiding principle, one should be in a good place to live life to the fullest both in the short and long term”.
Two easy ways for a person to improve their heart health include physical activity and a healthy diet. Doctors usually recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week to maintain a healthy heart. Tyler Danzi, a Mamaroneck High School Physical Education teacher, remarks “Regular physical exercise reduces blood pressure, decreases levels of stress by decreasing stress hormones, and alleviates mental health disabilities such as anxiety and depression.” Additionally, some foods are better than others at preventing heart disease. Specifically, diets that are full of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, nuts, and poultry serve to prevent heart disease. Staying away from basic processed food such as junk foods and refined carbs is crucial to avoid heart conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
Being aware of one’s heart health is important as it motivates one to regularly monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight, and to determine one’s approximate risk of mortality. Cardiovascular health can be an overall critical indicator of a person’s overall body’s health. Making smart and healthy choices will impact people throughout their lifespan. Following an easy rule of “everything in moderation” and making time to exercise for mental and physical health purposes can do just that.