Gotta Have Heart for the American Heart Association San Diego
Empowering individuals and families to live healthier lifestyles and enjoy more peace-of-mind in regards to heart disease and stroke [the #1 and # 3 killers in the U.S, respectively], the American Heart Association is making great strides in educating the community about the heart-felt issue: advocating for smoke-free public places; more walkable and bikable pathways, parks and streets; better nutrition and high quality physical education in schools; along with adequate and affordable healthcare for all. Nationwide, the non-profit has invested over $132 million a year ($3.2 billion since 1949) in heart and stroke research that has led to several recent breakthroughs; including clot-busting drugs and drug-eluting stents.
If you are a believer in coincidences, then it might do you well to consider that while February is Valentine’s season of love, it is also noted as American Heart Health month. Ironic how the little engraved pieces of solid corn syrup we receive from our sweethearts may serve as reminders of our own metabolic and circulatory health.
With the spotlight on hearts this month, it will be a wonder if the San Diego chapter of The American Heart Association (AHA) does not find their hands full. Founded in 1924, AHA has grown into one of the nation’s major sources of information on a range of issues regarding cardiovascular health and well-being.
Only 20 years ago, the obesity rate in America was half of what it is today. Data shows that 68 percent of U.S. adults over 20 are overweight or obese. In San Diego, only 45 percent of county residents are maintaining a healthy weight. For this reason, AHA has been gaining traction in recent years and expanding the scope of their operations and outreach.
Over the years, AHA has grown into one of the nation’s top five non-profit organizations. A primary research institution, it has funded and conducted research documented in journals such as “Hypertension,” “Circulation Research,” and “Stroke.” Through these and other publications, AHA has established itself as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Basic Life Support practices and has become the primary provider for Basic Life Support training in America [offering individuals, families and companies seminars on CPR and First Aid, and even developing a “Pocket” mobile app for free download].
AHA creates programs that educate the public about issues directly related to cardiovascular health. Currently, they sponsor the Jump Rope For Heart campaign, which provides jump rope instruction and cardiovascular information sessions to kids throughout the area. The Hoops for Heart campaign, which is another major component of their education strategy, also uses an integrated method of exercise and instruction to provide opportunities that allow kids to learn about their health and how to improve it.
Recently, the San Diego chapter has spearheaded an initiative called “Go Red For Women” to raise awareness specifically for heart disease, which is the number one cause of medically-related deaths each year for American women. The 2012 12th Annual “Go Red for Women” campaign will be hosted in March at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, which will feature a silent auction, luncheon and fashion show. The event is preceded by the ever-popular and publicized National Wear Red Day on February 3, which helps raise funds and awareness for the cause.
Perhaps the month of February, in which we are bombarded with cards and images of dancing cupids and bleeding hearts, will remind us of the importance of staying true to our own hearts, so that we can stick around a little longer, lest our loved ones lose their Valentine’s too soon.
American Heart Association San Diego