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Choosing Heart Health This February and Beyond

Heart month

A loving heart is a beating heart.

Heart failure continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S., and nurse practitioners (NPs) are ready to fight back against cardiac disease with two, heart-forward factoids. The first is that approximately 80% of heart disease is preventable. The second is that NPs have the skills, resources and tools to assist patients in actualizing healthy choices and making positive changes to help keep hearts happy.

Heart Health Resources

NPs on the go or with a love for podcasts may want to begin their heart health mission with Episode 77 of NP Pulse: The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, featuring a discussion with Victoria Pemberton, RNC, MS, CCRC, project officer for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Pemberton offers practical advice to NPs, like breaking down blood pressure numbers for patients while avoiding “medical speak,” and she offers an overview of several new and continuing campaigns to promote healthy hearts. One resource mentioned by Pemberton is the Million Hearts® initiative, a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services designed with the explicit aim “of averting 1 million preventable cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in the next five years (January 2022-December 2026).” The Million Hearts website includes change packages and action guides for clinicians, and an exciting campaign entitled “Live to the Beat.” Consisting of personal testimonials and educational videos, “Live to the Beat” sets a goal to “reduce the risk of CVD among Black adults ages 35 to 54.” The campaign approaches the serious subject of CVD with humor and positivity, encouraging patients to make important lifestyle changes.

The “ABCS of Heart Health” is another resource created to cut through the noise around heart disease and deliver actionable, memorable advice. Concentrating on controlling blood pressure, managing cholesterol, smoking cessation and taking aspirin as directed by a health professional, the “ABCS” summarize crucial heart health goals with an acronym that takes less than a minute to outline.

Heart Month #HashTags

NPs with patients who feel they are alone or isolated on their heart health journey can share a vast amount of resources. Support is available from family members, friends, health care providers and even strangers across the world who are taking to social media to discuss heart health and heart disease.

NHLBI suggests using the #OurHearts tag “to share how you prioritize your heart health and to see how others are showing their hearts some love, too.” NHLBI’s website features sharable inspirational quote cards and graphics that pair with #OurHearts. In addition to the #LiveToTheBeat hashtag, Million Hearts is joining other organizations like the CDC in utilizing the straightforward #HeartMonth tag. New this year, the American Heart Association (AHA) is teaming up with Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin to spread the word about the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillation (AED) after Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and recovered through both CPR and AED. Hamlin and the AHA are using #3forHeart and encouraging individuals to learn three steps that can help save lives.

Cardiovascular Health Continuing Education

For both NPs and patients, February is an excellent time to discuss heart health. To be truly effective, this conversation — and knowledge building — should continue throughout the year. Learn even more about this most important muscle through 13 continuing education (CE) activities, available in the AANP CE Center.

Browse Activities

Finally, if you’re interested in taking cardiovascular care to the next level, consider learning about the day-to-day life of a cardiology NP in this AANP overview.