April 21, 2019  

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Give the Best Gift to Your Valentine - the Gift of Heart Health

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In February, you can’t go anywhere without being reminded of Valentine’s Day. The day dedicated to showing that special someone how much he or she means to you. Heart-shaped chocolate-filled gifts as well as candy hearts proclaiming “Love You,” “Dear Heart” and even “Be My Valentine.” But February also has another way to show your love, by celebrating American Heart Month.

American Heart Month is a month-long celebration designed to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends, and communities involved. The American Heart Association celebrated the first American Heart Month 55 years ago to combat cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.

When you think of gifts for your Valentine, you rarely think about giving the gift of heart health. But it just might save your life, or theirs.

What does American Heart Month have to do with finding the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day?

“Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to give your Valentine the gift of heart health, either through education or action,” says Dr. Melanie Gilmore, a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and director of the online nursing FNP program at The University of Southern Mississippi. “Whether by learning how to prevent heart disease or by cooking healthy meals for your family, you are making a difference in their heart health.”

To bolster awareness, the American Heart Association offers five truths about heart disease:

  • Chances are you know someone affected by heart disease and stroke.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death with more than 17.9 million    deaths each year.
  • Approximately 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day
  • Cardiovascular disease, including stroke, claim the lives of about one woman every 80 seconds.
  • About 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action.

Gilmore says that medical professionals, and specifically nurse practitioners, play a major role in the prevention of heart disease for their patients. As a member of The American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Gilmore says their organization is working to combat heart disease by partnering with Million Hearts, a national initiative to prevent heart attacks and strokes in the United States over the next five years.

Gilmore says this holiday is the perfect opportunity to talk to your loved ones about heart health. “Celebrating American Heart Month with your Valentine is a great idea. You can give the gift of heart health in many ways, including encouraging heart-healthy exercises, and even working to reduce stress in your lives.”

So if you want to give your Valentine the gift that keeps on giving, consider celebrating February’s American Heart Month with them. Talk to your healthcare provider about your heart health and learn more about healthy eating. Remember, in a 70-year lifetime, the average American human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times. Help your Valentine reach that 2.5 billion mark in a healthy way.