American Heart Month

Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, is the number one cause of death in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 700,000 people die of heart disease in the United States annually, which is about 29% of all U.S. deaths. The emergency services are not immune to this tragic statistic. Heart disease remains the leading cause of firefighter fatalities, with over half of all on-duty firefighter deaths each year attributed to heart attacks.

In recognition of the nation’s ongoing fight against heart disease, Congress issued a joint resolution in 1963 requesting that the President issue a proclamation each year designating February as American Heart Month. The purpose of this annual proclamation is to renew the nation’s commitment to fighting this deadly disease and increase public awareness of how to prevent cardiovascular illnesses.

While heart-health should always be a priority, American Heart Month gives Americans the opportunity to reaffirm and re-energize their commitment to leading healthy lifestyles. For emergency services personnel, the NVFC Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program offers resources such as healthy recipes; health assessment and knowledge tools; success stories; and the Fired Up for Fitness Challenge. It is the only national program dedicated to saving the nation’s firefighters and EMS personnel from heart disease.

The Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program suggests the following steps to keep your heart healthy and strong:

  • Aim for a healthy weight. It is important for a long, vigorous life. Excess weight and obesity cause many preventable deaths.
  • Get moving. Make a commitment to be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Eat for heart-health. Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Be sure to include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers.

For more steps and tips for becoming heart-healthy, download the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Resource Guide.

Heart-Healthy Resources

You can also utilize the resources offered on the following web sites to assess your risk of cardiovascular disease, screen your current health, test your knowledge of heart disease and prevention, and learn more about heart-health.