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American Heart Month
By: Minister Nicholas Pierce, RN, MSN
We often associate the month of February with hearts because of Valentine’s Day. However, there is another reason we should think of hearts in February, it’s a designated time to advocate for cardiovascular health and raise awareness about heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies every 34 seconds from heart disease, making this disease the leading cause of death for both men and women of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
Your heart is one of the hardest working muscles in your body and it beats around the clock, only getting a break when you relax or sleep. With so much riding on this essential muscle, it’s important to ensure you’re doing all you can to keep it in good shape. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to show your heart how much you care during American Heart Month and throughout the year. Anyone, at any age, can benefit from these simple tips:
Maintain a healthy diet.
Drinking plenty of water and eating a diet of lower-calorie, nutrient-rich foods can help you control your weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which helps lower your risk of heart disease. A healthy diet is easily achievable by:
Understand the warning signs and symptoms of heart attacks.
Some heart attacks are very sudden and intense, leaving little time to respond to signs or symptoms. Other heart attacks, however, start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Pay close attention to your body and don’t hesitate to call 911 if you or someone you’re with experiences any of the following:
Stay up to date on your numbers.
A key part of staying on top of your heart health is being aware of your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. Cholesterol is a substance that circulates in your blood and comes in two different types, LDL (the “bad” kind) and HDL (the “good” kind). Blood pressure is the force of blood within your arteries. Like cholesterol, there are two types, systolic pressure (the higher of the two numbers) and diastolic pressure (the lower of the two numbers). Be sure to get your levels checked regularly and talk to your primary care provider about what you can do to keep them within a healthy range.
Know your family heart health history.
Risk factors for heart disease can also be genetic, so knowing your family’s heart health history can help you determine how healthy your heart is and measure your risk for heart issues now or down the road. By having a working knowledge of your family’s medical history, you can also help your provider identify where you may be at higher risk for certain conditions like heart disease and work to reduce your risks through lifestyle changes.
When you act early and make your heart health a top priority, you can get to know your heart better and help reduce your risk for heart disease. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to catch any other potential issues and work together with your provider to keep your heart healthy for the long run.
In conclusion, God mandates that we honor Him by caring for our temple. I Corinthians 6:19 states, “What? Know not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you which ye have of God, and you are not your own?” It is God’s will that humanity prospers and remains in good health. III John 2nd chapter states, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospereth.”
‘Reclaim your rhythm’ during Heart Awareness Month in February 2023
By: Bishop Dr. Etta Mhoon-Walker, PhD, APRN, RN, BSN, MSN, CCRN, D.Div
Saints and friends, February is American Heart Month, a time to pay special attention to understanding, preventing and treating heart disease, the leading cause of death in the nation. Over 874,000 Americans died of cardiovascular disease in 2019, according to the American Heart Association’s “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2022 Update.” This February, the 58th American Heart Month, the AHA is urging people all over the country to “reclaim your rhythm.”
What does that mean? Quite simply, the AHA is encouraging people to reclaim control of their mental and physical well-being after two difficult years of the COVID-19 pandemic. For American Heart Month, the AHA and other organizations reinforce the importance of heart health, the need for more research and efforts to ensure that millions of people live longer and healthier.
Here are just a few examples of how you can reclaim your health:
Caring for yourself and others are great ways to counter the pandemic’s heavy toll on health. Also, taking care of your heart is good for your brain. That’s because many of the risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, are also related to brain diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, experts note.
Heart disease has remained the leading health threat during the pandemic, and more people are reporting lower physical and emotional wellness. Many people have delayed or avoided seeking medical care. Unhealthy use of alcohol and other substances has been on the rise.
All these things can increase the risk of heart disease.
For nearly a century, the AHA has worked to encourage people to live healthier and longer, free of heart disease and stroke. But the first American Heart Month didn’t come until 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson, among the millions of people in our country who had experienced having a heart attack, issued the first proclamation for American heart Month in 1964. The first Friday of February is also National Wear Red Day as part of the AHA’s Red for Women Initiative. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths. That’s more than all forms of cancer combined. Let’s be safe, don’t ignore warning signs, and have a complete physical annually.
HEART DISEASE IN WOMEN
By Deaconess Lily Moore, RN
When people think of heart disease they usually think of men, but believe it or not, heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. In 2020, heart disease killed 314,186 women which average out to about 1 in every 3 deaths each year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 60,000 more women than men die per year from heart disease.
You may wonder why this is true. Some heart disease symptoms are atypical in women and may differ from symptoms in men. Chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women. Other symptoms in women include chest pressure or tightness, shortness of breath, weakness, sweating, jaw pain, arm pain and/or pain between the shoulder blades. Often, a large number of people will present to the emergency room complaining of “indigestion” which turns out to be a heart attack or heart failure.
Another interesting fact is that black women are likely to have heart disease more often than any other group of women. According to the CDC, from 2011-2015, 7.6% of black women compared to 5.8% of white women and 5.6% of Mexican American women have heart disease. This may be linked to family history, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or just a lack of knowledge.
As previously stated in previous heart awareness updates, some ways to prevent heart disease are:
1. Eating a healthy diet (plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low fat or fat free dairy, and lean meats. Try to avoid saturated fats, added sugars, and high amounts of salt).
2. Exercise to help maintain a healthy weight.
3. Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form.
4. Get a good quality of sleep (at least 8 hours a day if possible).
5. Know your numbers! Your heart depends on it.
Nothing reveals more about our hearts than our words and actions. Our heart contains the motivations for what we do and why we do it. We are encouraged through scripture to pay attention to our hearts with due diligence. Just as the body can’t function well without a healthy heart, neither can the Christian with a spiritual heart, we will be sluggish in our work, hard at hearing God’s word, and slow to recognize His presence. The consistent disciplines of the Christian faith of prayer, Bible study, and fellowship will keep our spiritual hearts pumping strong towards our eternal destination.
HEART DISEASE IN CHILDREN
By: Bishop Dr. Etta Mhoon-Walker, PhD, APRN, RN, CCRN, BSN, MSN, D.Div.
What is heart failure in children? The heart is a muscle that pumps oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. When you have heart failure, the heart is not able to pump as well as it should. Blood and fluid may back up into the lungs (congestive heart failure), and some parts of the body don’t get enough oxygen-rich blood to work normally. These problems lead to the symptoms of heart failure.
What causes heart failure in a child? The most common cause of heart failure in children is a heart defect that is present at birth (congenital). Other causes include heart muscle disease or enlargement of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), decrease in the blood supply to the heart (ischemia); this is rare in children, heart valve disease, irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias), low red blood cell count (anemia), infections, medicine side effects, especially from drugs used to treat cancer.
What are the symptoms of heart failure in a child? Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include swelling (edema) of the feet, ankles, lower legs, belly, liver, and neck veins, trouble breathing, especially with activity including rapid breathing, wheezing, or excessive coughing, poor feeding and weight gain (in infants), feeling tired, excessive sweating while feeding, playing, or exercising. older children may also have weight loss, passing out, chest pain. The symptoms of heart failure can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis. Heart failure can cause many complications. These include poor growth and development, high blood pressure in the blood vessels between the heart and lungs (pulmonary hypertension), irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), blood clots. If a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain, a stroke may occur, organ damage in the kidney or liver, low red blood cell count or low hemoglobin level (anemia). The most common cause of heart failure in children is a congenital heart defect. Common symptoms in children include trouble breathing, tiredness, and poor growth.
Saints and friends nothing could be more difficult than being the parent of an extremely sick child. Whether its heart disease, cancer, or other terminal diseases, or having your kid’s life threatened, watching him or her suffer can become unbearable. The bible records multiple accounts of Jesus healing children, including two times when he brought children back to life. Reading and reflecting on these biblical accounts can provide hope and healing and help us respond faithfully to our child’s sickness (John 4:43-54, Luke 7:11-17 Mark 5:21-24, 35-43, Mark 5:36; Matthew 15:21-28). Sometimes we as parents may give up too soon. It is ok not to take “no” for an answer. If you have not received the healing your child needs, keep asking. It may be just a matter of timing. Or perhaps you need to try a different approach. You can have full confidence, Jesus never engages in racial discrimination, especially when it comes to healing.
In conclusion, throughout Jesus’ ministry, enormous crowds of people followed him. Among them were many sick people, including children, who came to Jesus to be healed. On one occasion, after Jesus finished teaching, many parents brought their children to Jesus to have him bless them. Some of these were surely children suffering from various illnesses and in need of healing. He encouraged the parents to come with their children to him. Parents with sick children I’m here to tell you the invitation still stands!