As an instructor of cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures in the community, I tell the story of how my grandmother and father were resuscitated by family members, only to die of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, one in four deaths are caused by heart disease.

Women are more likely to delay treatment and subsequently die from a heart attack. This is due to the fact that often the symptoms are different for women than men.

In the course I teach, I stress to the women and men who love them that they can have 21 different symptoms with a heart attack. I remind that in February the American Red Cross has the Red Dress campaign to educate women and the men who love them about the symptoms of heart disease.

Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Communities, health professionals and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

Faith Community Nurses help congregations and faith based agencies to create those opportunities for health. Encouraging exercise by walking or offer a health taste alternative to a beloved family recipe can be done through the nurse’s work.  Helping people make those slight changes in their health can make all the difference in whether a person develops heart disease or not.

In February, learn about how to prevent heart disease. Make a difference in your community: Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live a heart healthy life.

Here are some ideas:

  • Encourage yourself and others to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
  • Pair up with a buddy to motivate yourself to make physical activity a part of every day.
  • Learn about heart healthy ways of living.

Making heart health a part of your life will keep it beating strong and regular for many years to come.