Heart Health Week kicks off Feb. 22
February is often considered the month of love, with couples sending heart emojis and sharing a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. But did you know that February is also American Heart Health Month? That’s right. And although it may sound like an annual campaign, heart health is more important now than ever before. Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death in men and women worldwide, but its level of threat has been put on the backburner due to COVID-19.
It’s time to raise awareness about the serious risks that heart disease can cause. Heart disease claims more lives than the next four causes of death combined, including cancer. On average, a person dies of heart disease every 35 seconds in America. It’s also the No. 1 killer of women and minorities such as African Americans.
February became the designated month to spread awareness for heart health ever since President Lyndon B. Johnson suffered from a heart attack and declared the month as “American Heart Month” in 1964. Nowadays, The American Heart Association (AHA) provides people with the information on how to reduce high blood pressure, eat better, and exercise, but it does not take away from the fact that heart disease claims the lives of over half a million people annually. That’s about 1 in every 4 deaths in America.
This year, it is especially important to bring awareness to heart health. That’s why Charleston Southern University is teaming up students and employees in support. Jenna Johnson, assistant director of integrated marketing, serves as the employee representative for AHA. She shared her thoughts on how heart health is of peak importance, especially in the age of a pandemic.
“There are many studies suggesting that COVID-19 survivors experience some type of heart damage, even if they did not already have heart disease,” Johnson said. “Cardiac injury has been seen in people with less severe symptoms as well. It is vital that the American Heart Association receive support in continued life-saving research.”
Throughout the pandemic, several patients have avoided going to the hospital for heart complications or strokes because of overcrowding or from fear of getting the virus. Additionally, more people are inclined to engage in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors during lockdown, such as bad eating, drinking, and limiting physical activity. All of these habits can contribute to heart disease. New York alone has seen a 164% increase in hypertensive disease and a 139% increase in ischemic heart disease during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns those with heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathy) that their risk increases if they suffer from coronavirus as well. This makes the importance of heart health more imperative than ever.
But don’t let the numbers scare you. There are several ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, among other heart-related complications, and it’s best to start early than when it’s too late.
CSU kicked off Heart Health Month with a free throw fundraiser. Dr. Dondi Costin, president of Charleston Southern University, participated in the event that paired with local Trident Hospital last Friday, where students and staff were invited to shoot hoops in the Buc Dome. Next week, CSU will host Heart Health Week:
- Monday, Feb. 22: Mental Health Monday – Tips for living in a way that is good for your heart and mind.
- Tuesday, Feb. 23: Taco ’Bout It Tuesday – Let’s learn about heart health! Dining services will feature a heart-healthy (and happy) taco bar!
- Wednesday, Feb. 24: Wellness Wednesday – Follow Campus Rec for some good cardio fun and for your chance to win some prizes.
- Thursday, Feb. 25: Thirsty Thursday – Increase that water intake for a healthier you!
- Friday, Feb. 26: Red Out Friday – Remember to wear RED for your support of heart health awareness.
- Saturday, Feb. 27 – Celebration Saturday: Join in on the Virtual Heart Walk!
Johnson and student organization representative Isabella Bozard worked together in creating the themes and events for the week. “We’re encouraging the campus to get involved in the virtual walk this year and also are providing daily tips for heart health to educate and bring awareness to our CSU family,” said Johnson.
This year’s heart walk may be virtual, but support and funds will go directly to local heart relief. To donate, or find more information on the virtual heart walk, please find the link here.
“I am excited to bring awareness and hope lots of people do their part in helping the American Heart Association!” said Bozard.
Emma Slaven is a senior English writing major and an intern for Marketing & Communication.