We are fully emerged into February, the month each year when medical professionals and healthcare organizations try to bring more awareness to heart health.

While it should be a year-round priority for everyone, February is specifically aimed at putting a focus on cardiovascular health.

I am extremely proud of my name. To be called “Thelma” comes with some pride every time I hear it. You see, I was named after my grandmother who died months before I was born. As I am often told, my grandmother wanted a granddaughter so badly.

I never go to meet her. So, I got the next best thing — her name.

My grandmother was 50 years old when she died of a heart attack. My mom’s side of the family is a mess when it comes to genetic health, but the heart is the biggest concern.

My mom was afraid to turn 50 because of heart issues that flowed through her family. When 50 came and went — she was relieved, but she definitely keeps up with heart testing and taking preventative measures.

For me, now in my 40s, I tend to ask my doctor a lot of questions about my heart. I share a name with a woman I never met because in the 1970s there was a lot less information available to people about heart health.

There really wasn’t a month aimed specifically at raising hearth health awareness.

A heart problem can be sneaky, since symptoms can present differently in every individual. Someone with heart disease or heart failure may not experience the same symptoms as another person with the same condition.

While breast cancer tends to get a lot of attention in terms of women’s health and preventative measures — heart disease is actually a bigger culprit each year.

According to the CDC, despite efforts to increase awareness, only 56% of women recognized heart disease as the top killer. As the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., heart disease was responsible for 314,186 women dying in 2020. That equates to 1 in every 5 female deaths.

For personal reasons I write about women, but in reality, heart disease has a huge effect on the entire U.S. population.

According to the CDC, one person dies every 34 seconds in the U.S. of cardiovascular disease. In total, 697,000 Americans died in 2020 of heart disease. That equates to 1 in every 5 deaths.

According to the CDC, the term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions because it all goes toward issues affecting the blood flow around the heart. Decreased blood flow, for instance, can cause a heart attack.

Sometimes heart disease can go completely unnoticed and undiagnosed until a person suffers from a heart attack, heart failure or arrythmia.

Instead of waiting for something major to happen, health officials continue to stress the need to be proactive in healthcare, meaning taking preventative measures and tests as directed each year.

For more information on issues of the heart, visit the American Heart Association website at heart.org.

Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.


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