By Lynne Welch
“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” This famous quote by Buddha is at the heart of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) mission, building healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. As America celebrates American Heart Month in February, the American Heart Association also celebrates its annual Go Red Day on February 1st.
In 2018, the life expectancy in the United States was 76 for men and 81 for women. Through 2015, the United States was last amongst developed nations in life expectancy. According to a recent AARP article, the US is the only one of the 18 developed nations with a life expectancy average below 80. In the US, one in four Americans deaths are the result of heart disease making it the leading cause of death in America with an attributed estimate of 610,000 deaths per year. Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, killing more than 140,000 each year.
Within the last year, the American Heart Association updated the blood pressure categories getting rid of the pre-hypertension category and establishing a healthy blood pressure as less than 120 systolic over less than 80 diastolic. In addition, the AHA made the recommendation to all Americans to get their blood pressure checked regularly. To this end, the AHA partnered with districts around the nation to promote heart health throughout the year.
Prosper ISD joined the hundreds of other districts this year in the recognition of Go Red Day. Following the recommendation of the Prosper ISD School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), the district joined forces with AHA to promote heart health. Sending monthly email and social media blasts about healthy eating, living and exercise, the district began the journey to fight heart disease and stroke. Over 250 employees donated to the AHA to receive the Go Red shirt to wear on February 1st to raise awareness. Students, staff and the community were encouraged to wear red on Friday, February 1st and hundreds of district employees committed to healthy living and getting their blood pressure checked. The Prosper ISD Health Science program joined in the fight by allowing student interns to go to the different campuses throughout the month of February to offer complimentary blood pressure checks to staff.
It is imperative that every person knows the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Early detection through regular blood pressure checks can save lives. Prevention through healthy eating, living and exercise can increase life expectancy by years. For more information about heart health, explore the AHA website at www.heart.org or contact your doctor. The duty of keeping healthy isn’t just to preserve your life but to safeguard the wellbeing and future of your entire family!