Heart Failure Awareness Week comes up in the second week of February every year. This year, it is observed from February 6 to 12. The week, dedicated to spreading awareness about heart failure, has been observed in the week of Valentine’s Day for over 20 years. Did you know that heart disease is the primary cause of death in the United States? This is why different health organizations in the U.S. use this week as an opportunity to sensitize the public about the risk factors of heart failure, prevention methods, available treatment options, and other best practices for living with heart failure.
History of Heart Failure Awareness Week
Heart Failure Awareness Week is observed in the second week of February, precisely in the week of Valentine’s Day. The week was approved by the U.S. Senate in 2000 and has been sponsored by the Heart Failure Society of America (H.F.S.A.) since then. With heart disease being the leading cause of death for Americans, H.F.S.A. aims to significantly reduce the scourge of heart failure across the U.S.
Heart failure is a serious condition where the heart pumps blood inefficiently, leading to a shortage of blood supply around the parts of the body at the right pressure. This usually occurs when the heart muscle gets too stiff or weak to work properly. Over 200,000 cases of congestive heart failure are recorded every year in the U.S. Also, heart failure is one of the most common diagnoses in hospital patients aged 65 and above. Globally, there are over 23 million people diagnosed with heart failure.
Some common symptoms of heart failure include abnormally fast heartbeats, breathlessness, feeling tired all of the time, swelling in the hands and/or feet, chest pain, persistent cough producing blood with mucus, and loss of appetite. In the case of acute heart failure, these symptoms develop more rapidly, while they gradually develop in chronic heart failure.
While the statistics are quite discouraging, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) says that 80% of cardiovascular diseases including heart failure can be prevented by minimizing the risk factors. The risk factors for heart failure may include alcohol and tobacco use, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. On a more positive note, new therapies to treat patients with heart failure have been in development recently.
Heart Failure Awareness Week timeline
Pharaoh Merneptah, who had atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), dies in Egypt.
Daniel Hale Williams, a Black cardiologist, performs the first successful open-heart surgery on a stabbed patient.
40-year-old Arne Larsson receives the first implantable pacemaker in Stockholm, Sweden on October 8.
A surgeon, Professor Christiaan Barnard, performs the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa, on December 3.
Heart Failure Awareness Week FAQs
When is Heart Failure Awareness Month?
February is Heart Failure Awareness Month since Heart Failure Awareness Week often falls in the week of Valentine’s Day. The Heart Failure Society of America (H.F.S.A.) in partnership with private companies and health professionals uses the week to promote heart disease awareness, innovative research about heart health, and support patients with heart failure.
When is National Heart Condition Day?
The N.H.L.B.I. and many other organizations around the country celebrate National Wear Red Day on the first Friday of February each year. The goal of this day is to create more widespread attention to heart disease as a leading cause of death in the U.S.A.
Why is the heart weak?
A weak heart muscle may be caused by one condition, such as a heart attack or coronary artery disease. Also, a combination of conditions, such as unmanaged high blood pressure, faulty heart valves, and genetic disease may weaken the heart muscles.
How to Observe Heart Failure Awareness Week
Adopt a healthier lifestyle
Risk factors like obesity, alcohol and tobacco abuse, and high blood pressure can increase the probability of having heart failure or worsen the condition in patients. Hence, it’s better to quit smoking, maintain a healthy diet and stay physically active, maintain a healthy weight, control your cholesterol and blood pressure, and manage stress.
Visit the clinic
If you’ve been diagnosed with heart failure, it’s important to visit the clinic and meet with your cardiologist this week for a checkup. Your doctor will also be able to offer expert recommendations about how to manage the condition and live longer.
Join the campaign on social media
If your local clinic will be organizing a special heart health awareness program during this week, join them in the week-long event. You can also join the social media campaign with the hashtag #HFWeek.
5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE HEART
Heart attacks on Christmas Day
The highest number of heart attacks happen each year on Christmas Day, followed by the day after Christmas and New Year's Day.
It’s so “bloody” in there
The heart pumps approximately 1.5 gallons of blood every minute — that’s over 2,000 gallons every day!
Heartbeats per day
Your heart will beat about 115,000 times each day!
A woman’s heartbeat
While a man’s heart is typically two ounces heavier than a woman’s, the average heartbeat of a woman is about eight beats a minute faster than a man’s heartbeat.
Blood vessels circling Earth
There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body — enough to circle the world twice!
Why Heart Failure Awareness Week is Important
It raises awareness about heart failure
Statistics about heart failure are quite scary. About five million Americans are presently living with congestive heart failure (C.H.F.), and an average of 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. C.H.F. affects everyone from all ages, children, young adults, the middle-aged, and the elderly, and about 287,000 deaths annually are attributed to the condition. This is why H.F.S.A. continues to sensitize the public about heart failure during this week.
It promotes innovations in heart health
Over the years, private organizations and stakeholders in the health sector have collaborated with H.F.S.A. to promote awareness activities about heart failure. Much more, they also recommend ways to live longer with the condition, while recommending regular checkups and sharing innovations about heart failure treatment and diagnosis.
It encourages healthy living
Heart failure can be managed and prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk factors. Through a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and regular medical checkups, the risk of heart failure can be minimized and managed. During this week, those already diagnosed with heart failure can get expert advice about how to manage the condition, and others can learn preventive measures to avoid the condition.
Heart Failure Awareness Week dates