February is all about hearts

“I want to live, I want to give. I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.” – Neil Young, 1972

Most of you are very aware that February is “National Heart Health Month” as well as the “Go Red for Women” month. Fortunately, there is much information available now about heart health, particularly as it relates to women.

Few people are not surprised, thankfully, that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women, surpassing all types of cancer and other diseases. In 2011, nearly 787,000 people in the U.S. succumbed to heart disease, with coronary heart disease being the most prevalent. Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320.1 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.

While heart disease statistics have been available and research conducted for many years regarding heart disease and men, both research and information-gathering for women’s heart issues are relatively recent. While only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat, heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute. Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease. The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.

Thankfully, the information noted above, and much more, is readily available. I encourage everyone to talk frankly with their health provider about their risk factors, review their dietary habits, and make this a priority. My own viewpoint on the subject also incorporates getting adequate sleep, removing stress, “getting up from sofas and chairs” and making the necessary life changes which can alter those statistics.

Additionally, the effects of isolation and loneliness have been widely studied as it relates to heart disease. To learn more about the “Roseto” effect in which a close-knit community experiences a reduced rate of heart disease. A recent PBS special documentary revealed attributes of positive relationships which reflect on our heart health. Information is also available online for those who wish to search for more information. The effect is named for Roseto, PA and describes family and community interaction there and the healthy effect on the inhabitants.

My quote this week may seem a little odd, but I hope that as we close up the month of February you do take responsibility and become a “miner for a (healthy) heart of gold.” Let’s strive for the “gold standard” in heart health by consuming fewer trans fats, packaged foods high in sodium, refined carbs, fried foods, and whole milk products. Working on establishing better family and working relationships, getting in those 10,000 steps each day, and adequate rest will do your heart good!

  1. Sources: CDC.gov – Heart Disease Facts
  2. American Heart Association – 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Update, compiled by AHA, CDC, NIH and other governmental sources


The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace advice of your personal physician or licensed health professional. Please consult your physician for any issues you may have related to nutrition or fitness activity.