Biweekly Briefing Articles

Embracing Heart Health with Awareness, Compassion and Connection 

My mom has Atrial fibrillation. I remember one morning a few years ago when her heart was racing. We didn’t know what was happening. I sat with her in the living room and her heart wasn’t slowing down. We were scared and rushed her to the emergency room where she was diagnosed. Now she’s on medication and the AFib is under control.  

I share that experience with my mom because February is a time for expressions of love and affection and a chance to prioritize heart health. My family was fortunate — mom’s condition was diagnosed, and she received the necessary treatment. That’s not the case for everyone. You may have heard that this is American Heart Month, when hospitals in our region and around the country engage their communities to create awareness and promote measures to reduce heart disease. In 2021, heart disease was the leading cause of death nationally and in California. It’s the leading cause of death for women, a fact that’s often overlooked.

The disparities for women become even more evident when combined with race, ethnicity, and other factors. That’s why conversations about preventive measures, early detection, and lifestyle changes are crucial and can save lives. Empowering individuals with knowledge fosters a proactive approach to cardiovascular well-being, contributing to a more equitable society.

Access to information and care is essential. In our region, the LiveWell San Diego initiative will host Love Your Heart events from Feb. 14-29. In addition to raising awareness, the events offer free blood pressure screenings. At last year’s event, medical volunteers distributed over 3,200 blood pressure monitors and identified 130 people with crisis-level blood pressure readings. Those are not just numbers – they’re individuals whose lives just may have been saved. 

American Heart Month serves as an opportunity to recognize the seriousness of an issue that impacts all of us in some way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease costs the United States about $240 billion each year, a number that includes “health care services, medicines and lost productivity due to death.” 

As we navigate February, let’s carry this heightened awareness and compassion into our daily lives, fostering a collective commitment to heart health and well-being in our families and in the community.