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American Heart Month: Everything You Need to Know

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, 6 min read

American Heart Month: Everything You Need to Know

Whether it’s through social media or on TV, you’ve probably heard of American Heart Month at some point. But what exactly is it, why is it important, and how can you get involved?

What is American Heart Month?

American Heart Month was an initiative started by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. After suffering from a heart attack, he proclaimed the month of February 1964 American Heart Month. Since then, all US presidents have continued declaring American Heart Month on an annual basis.

When is American Heart Month 2023?

As per tradition, American Heart Month will take place in February 2023.

What happens during American Heart Month?

American Heart Month is a period where organizations nationwide focus on raising awareness about heart and cardiovascular disease (CVD). It’s also a time when the general public is encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices to improve their heart health.

Some initiatives and campaigns for American Heart Month 2023 include:

  • Live to the Beat (Million Hearts & CDC) - to reduce CVD for black adults aged 35-54
  • Heart to Heart: Why Losing One Woman Is Too Many (American Heart Association)
  • Go Red For Women (AHA) - raise awareness that 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with heart disease 
  • National Wear Red Day (AHA) - first Friday of the month (Feb 5) as part of Go Red For Women
  • #OurHearts (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) - promoting healthy lifestyle changes

Why is heart health so important?

The point of American Heart Month is to save lives by raising awareness about the dangers of heart disease and the importance of prioritizing cardiovascular health.

Pumping blood containing oxygen, fuel, hormones, and all sorts of other vital substances, your heart is essential to pretty much every function in your body. Keeping your heart strong and healthy is therefore extremely important to your health as well as your quality of life.

Poor heart health can lead to a number of complications and conditions, not least of which is heart disease. Some statistics regarding heart health in the US include:

  • One person dies of cardiovascular disease every 34 second
  • Heart disease contributed to 1 in 5 deaths in 2020 
  • Around 805,000 people have a heart attack every year
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial & ethnic groups

What is heart disease?

Heart disease refers to a range of conditions. The most common type of heart disease is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). This affects the blood vessels which can restrict blood flow to the heart.

Other types of heart disease include:

  • Blood vessel diseases
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
  • Congestive heart failure

Many types of heart disease can be treated, minimized, or even prevented with healthy lifestyle changes. This is exactly what American Heart Month is designed to promote.

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

As there are various types of heart disease, there are many different symptoms. Not all are indicative of every kind of heart disease, but many of them do overlap.

Some common symptoms of heart disease can include:

  • Chest pain, tightness, pressure, and discomfort
  • Chest flutters
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat - racing (tachycardia) or slow (bradycardia)
  • Swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet
  • Selling of the legs, belly, or around the eyes
  • Pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the legs or arms

Please note that women will often not have the classic symptoms associated with a heart attack, such as fatigue. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, check in with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath, fainting, or any severe symptoms, do not wait – call 911 immediately. 

What happens if heart disease goes untreated?

Many types of heart disease can go unnoticed until a major medical emergency occurs. Ignoring the signs and symptoms that you are unwell can also lead to bigger health complications.

Some complications of heart disease can include:

  • Heart attacks
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysms
  • Peripheral artery disease

Who is at high risk of heart disease?

There are many risk factors for heart disease. These include:

  • Age (the risk increases as we get older)
  • Sex (men are at higher risk but the risk increases for post-menopausal women)
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Bad diet
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Poor dental health
  • Lack of exercise

The good news is that there are plenty of simple things you can do to treat and minimize your risk of heart disease.

Top tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a balanced, healthy diet can go a long way towards treating and reducing your risk of heart disease. So let’s look at how you can implement lifestyle changes and maintain a healthy heart.

Start small

The idea of suddenly running a marathon may seem impressive, but you are far more likely to lead a healthy life if you make small and sustainable changes to your daily routine.

So, instead of saying you’ll run 50 miles this week, why not commit to going for a 30-minute walk every day before breakfast? Or getting off the bus one stop earlier than usual on the way to work? You can then add to this gradually as you feel healthier and more confident.

Focus on what you can eat, not what you can’t

Lowering your cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, and controlling the risk of diabetes comes down to dietary choices. But you’re less likely to stick to a good diet if you’re always focused on the long list of treats you can’t have.

So, instead of focusing on that, make a list of all the delicious things you can and should eat. Instead of banning carbs from your plate, focus instead on making sure you have enough portions of fruit and vegetables with every meal. This will naturally make sure that you fill up on the nutritious stuff while also getting a balanced meal full of all the food groups you need. 

An added bonus: fresh vegetables and fruit can often be found at a lower cost than processed foods. 

Buddy up

Making significant lifestyle changes is hard. Make it a bit easier for yourself by committing to a project with friends and loved ones. Whether that’s one run a week with a friend or a daily lunchtime walk with colleagues, having a buddy involved will keep you motivated. Make sure that any exercise you choose is reasonable for your lifestyle. Walking is always a good start!

Make yourself accountable

If you struggle with self-control, why not join a group to make yourself accountable? Whether that’s a local soccer team or a weight loss program, having somewhere to show up every week will help to keep you on track.

Worried about your heart health? Talk to your healthcare provider!

American Heart Month is a great way to learn more about heart disease and make some positive changes to your health. But, if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to heart disease, it’s important to seek medical help.

If you’re concerned about your heart health, make an appointment with the Babylon healthcare team today and get the support you need.


  1. American Heart Association 
  2. Million Hearts 
  3. American Heart Association 
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 
  5. Harvard Health Publishing 
  6. CDC,United%20States%20from%20cardiovascular%20disease.&text=About%20697%2C000%20people%20in%20the,1%20in%20every%205%20deaths.&text=Heart%20disease%20cost%20the%20United,year%20from%202017%20to%202018 
  7.  CDC 
  8. Mayo Clinic 
  9. Mayo Clinic 
  10. Mayo Clinic 

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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