February is American Heart Month, and the dedicated staff at our Capital Blue health and wellness centers in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley are doing their part to get the word out about heart health awareness.
During the week of February 10, both health and wellness centers will offer free blood pressure screenings and coupons for a Healthy You Cafe smoothie (while supplies last).
Do your heart a favor and take time to visit:
- The Capital Blue health and wellness center at 4500 Marketplace Way, Enola; or
- The Capital Blue health and wellness center at 2845 Center Valley Parkway, Center Valley.
The free blood pressure checks are available on a walk-in basis at both centers during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., The stores are also open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Anyone is welcome. You don’t need to be a Capital BlueCross member to visit a Capital Blue health and wellness center. Among the offerings are yoga, kickboxing and other fitness classes, personal health coaching, nutrition counseling, and other programs that improve overall health wellness and awareness.
The Capital Blue health and wellness center programs dovetail nicely with the spirit of American Heart Month, as well as the American Heart Association’s mission to reduce national spending on sick care by focusing more attention on prevention and causes of poor health.
The first American Heart Month was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, nine years after he suffered a heart attack. The month is devoted to raising awareness about heart health, and sharing knowledge about how to prevent heart disease, the number one killer of Americans.
The American Heart Association (AHA), founded by six cardiologists in 1924, has invested more than $4.5 billion in research into heart disease over the years.
Partly through its efforts, various factors affecting heart health have improved. Smoking is down, physical activity is up, and dietary habits have improved among adults and young people, according to the AHA, while total cholesterol levels are lower among adults and young people, and blood glucose levels are lower among adults.
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, some unhealthy trends also have emerged.
More people of all ages are overweight or obese, and rates of high blood pressure and overall high blood glucose levels are up. And while overall physical activity has increased, the level of physical activity for young people has decreased.
The statistics around heart disease remain alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease:
- Kills one person every 37 seconds
- Kills nearly 650,000 people in the U.S. each year
- Costs the U.S. over $219 billion annually counting health care services, medicines and lost productivity.
Also, according to the CDC, coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease:
- Killed nearly 366,000 people in 2017
- Afflicted about 18.2 million adults aged 20-and-older
The CDC cites high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking as key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (47%) have at least one of these three risk factors. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease. They include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
The American Heart Association’s goal is to increase healthy life expectancy from 66 to 68 years by 2030. It defines healthy life expectancy as years of life in good health, so it reflects both quantity and health-related quality of life, according to the association.
Reducing the frequency of cardiovascular disease will both lower total health care costs and increase healthy life expectancy, according to the association.
So take some time in February to join us at either one of our Capital Blue health and wellness centers. Your heart will be glad you did.