February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center of Disease Control. In fact, approximately every 25 seconds, an American will have some type of coronary event and one every minute will die from one. In 2009, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack.
The good news is that the chance of developing coronary heart disease can be drastically reduced by taking certain steps to prevent and control the factors that put people at greater risk. In addition, individuals that have survived a heart attack can also work on reducing their risk of another heart attack or a stroke in the future. There is no magic pill that will reduce a person’s risk factor. The best weapons to fight heart disease are a healthy diet and lifestyle. This includes moderating the use of alcohol and eliminating exposure to cigarettes, including secondhand smoke. A new report by the Institute of Medicine finds that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can be a factor in triggering a heart attack. Tobacco smoke causes health problems not only in smokers but also for the people around them. Breathing in second hand smoke definitely increases an individual’s risk for a heart attack and other heart-related conditions. Physical activity as part of a daily routine is an important step to preventing heart disease. Simple steps at home and work can help increase the amount of exercise in your life. As far as the recommended diet goes, the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Web site has more tips on nutrition. There are interactive tools that will help guide your through your everyday choices and also a quiz that will help you learn your personal risk of heart disease.
More heart healthy news is taking place at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has formally designated the Mass General as a “Magnet” through the year 2012. Magnet designation represents the highest available honor for nursing excellence, and in 2003, Mass General became the first hospital in Massachusetts to earn the coveted Magnet status. Fewer than five percent of hospitals in the U.S. are Magnet designated. Massachusetts General has a long tradition of nursing excellence, leadership, learning and compassionate care. An integral part of the hospital is the Massachusetts General Heart Center which is made up of seven nursing units. Each unit is staffed with an expert nursing team that specializes in a particular area of cardiac care. Nurses are a central part of the Heart Center. The nursing staff serves as liasons and educators for new patients entering the Heart Center. Depending on a nurse’s specialty and expertise, cardiac nurses contribute to different aspects of a patient’s experience. From prevention and teaching, to managing complex conditions, nurses take great pride in their work at the Heart Center.