Heart disease and heart health have been important to me and our family for many years.
Mimi, my mother, suffers from a rare heart condition that has plagued her for several years. It is as painful as it is life threatening and we have suffered with her as she has been forced to learn to cope with it.
I hate that she faces this reality and daily I fear getting “the call.”
Unfortunately, hers is not the type of heart illness that could have be avoided with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Fortunately for the rest of us, the majority of them are.
There are numerous heart related disease and illness that are largely preventable with proper education, healthcare, diet, and exercise. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke — and deaths from those diseases — have declined in the United States in recent decades due in part to medical advancements and patient education.
That is great news!
Only, if you dig deeper you will discover that while the overall rates of these disease have declined, they still remain alarmingly and disproportionately high in certain communities. Race and socioeconomic status have proven to be major risk factors for these diseases. Which is a nice way of saying, if you’re brown or poor or, most unfortunate of all, brown AND poor, much more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and the like than someone who is neither of these.
Not great news.
And also the reason the EmPOWERED to Serve movement is so important.
When the American Heart Association reached out to partner with me to help bring awareness to this issue and this movement, I was so quickly on board –it seems to be just what is needed to help spark needed change.
Designed to help build a sustainable culture of health in diverse communities across America and encourage people to get involved in their communities, the movement seeks to empower residents with education and opportunities while encouraging the development of creative, innovative solutions to this issue.
Recently, the AHA held the Empowered to Serve Summit in Washington D.C., where finalists in the American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED To Serve Urban Business Storytelling Competition competed to earn monetary grants to help bring their vision of eliminating social determinants of health and addressing barriers to healthy living and well being in urban communities to life.
Things like Sharon Hunter’s Eat Away Hunger program that provides backpacks of healthy food to urban children and Sequoia Ross’s Tricycle organization that focuses on urban agriculture to help impact the health of local communities were presented.
You may not have an innovative idea to add to this conversation, but there are plenty of things you and your families can do to help decrease the incidence of heart disease and stroke within your own home and communities.
Get EmPowered to Serve: How You and Your Family Can Help Fight Heart Disease
Your time right in communities near you that need support. First step: join the EmPowered to Serve movement to learn about research and gain access to important resources that can help you and those around you lead a healthier lifestyle.
Directly to the American Heart Association or to one of the innovative businesses that working hard to make a difference. Everyone knows money talks and when it comes to research and idea development, financial support is desperately needed for some programs to continue to impact change in the ways that they have been.
The American Heart Association website has countless tidbits of educational information to help you become more knowledgeable about heart health. Check out their database of articles to find information about detecting heart disease and preventing it from attacking you in the first place.
Work on your diet.
And teach your kids about eating heart healthy foods too. We need to make generational changes among our families and communities to the things we put in our bodies if we want to continue to grow toward eliminating heart disease and other heart related illnesses –particularly the ones correlated to obesity.
Be active together.
Get outside and do active things together as a family. It’s more fun that way! Plus, it teaches your kids that being active is a thing you do for enjoyment no matter your age and encourages them to make a lifelong commitment to an active, healthy lifestyle.
Want to learn more about heart health and how you can get EmPOWERED to Serve? Visit the American Heart Association’s website for more.