February: American Heart Month

By presidential proclamation annually beginning in 1964, with President Lyndon B. Johnson, February has been proclaimed as American Heart Month. During the month, the spotlight is on heart disease, the No 1 killer of Americans. This month the American Heart Association also focuses attention on the fact that one in three women are diagnosed with heart disease annually with its National Wear Red Day, part of the Go Red for Women initiative.

This year, the focus on heart health is more important due to the impact of the coronavirus on the public’s heart health, including potential harmful effects on the heart and vascular system, according to recent research. Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have delayed or avoided going to hospitals for heart attacks and strokes. To counter this trend, the American Heart Association created the “Don’t Die of Doubt” national awareness campaign reminding people that hospitals are the safest places to go when they have symptoms of heart attacks and strokes.

Heart disease is of particular interest to those of us concerned about oral health because researchers report that gum disease caused by poor oral hygiene can not only result in pain and tooth loss, but it also can lead to heart disease and stroke. People with gum disease have nearly double the risk for heart disease as those with healthy gums, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Gum infection also is more prevalent in people who suffer a certain type of stroke. Researchers don’t yet know exactly how gum disease affects heart health, and more research is needed. However, indications are that taking care of our teeth and gums daily and visiting our dentist regularly may have a beneficial impact on heart health. If you have any thoughts on this subject, please leave a comment. And, please, take good care of your heart!

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