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    A Guide to Heart Month 2024

    Welcome to our guide to Heart Month 2024. In this article, we will explore why the heart is crucial for good health, touching on key facts about heart conditions in both adults and children. We will also give you all the need-to-know information regarding Heart Month 2024 including what it is, when it is, why it is important, how you can get involved, and the theme of this year's month.

    National Heart Month

    Why is the heart such a vital organ?

    The heart is a vital organ as it is at the core of your circulatory system. Its fundamental role lies in pumping blood throughout your body with each heartbeat. This blood serves a crucial purpose, delivering oxygen and essential nutrients to every corner of your body while simultaneously transporting away carbon dioxide and waste products. In essence, according to the NHS, the heart's rhythm sustains the functions that keep our bodies working optimally.

    How does a healthy heart work?

    A healthy heart works with great efficiency. The British Heart Foundation states that the heart's electrical system tells your heart when to contract and when to relax. This keeps your blood pumping regularly. The instructions to contract and relax are carried by electrical signals. Here is a simplified breakdown of how the heart works to keep your body working properly:

    1. The heart contracts and relaxes, generating a consistent pumping action.

    2. This pumping pushes blood through blood vessels, arteries, veins and capillaries.

    3. As the blood circulates it carries oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues throughout the body.

    4. The blood also collects carbon dioxide and waste products from the body to dispose of them.

    5. The heart works alongside the circulatory system which maintains a balance in overall body health.

    Video: How A Healthy Heart Works - British Heart Foundation

    The British Heart Foundation has summarised how a healthy heart works in the video below:

    How many adults in the UK have heart conditions?

    In the UK, heart and circulatory diseases have a significant impact, accounting for a quarter of all deaths. Annually, this equates to more than 170,000 lives lost, averaging 480 deaths each day or one every three minutes. The prevalence of heart conditions is substantial, with approximately 7.6 million people living with heart or circulatory diseases in the UK. This figure comprises 4 million men and 3.6 million women, underscoring the widespread nature of these health concerns in the country, according to figures from the British Heart Foundation. Heart conditions can be effectively treated once prescribed with therapies, surgery, or medications.

    How many children in the UK have heart conditions?

    In the UK, congenital heart disease, which is when the condition exists from birth, affects approximately one in every 133 babies, which is over 5,000 infants each year. Additionally, acquired heart defects, which develop after birth, affect an estimated 500 to 1,000 children annually in the UK. The figures are taken from the Children’s Heart Foundation. These statistics outline the importance of understanding and addressing heart conditions in children, emphasising the need for awareness and support in managing these health conditions at an early age.

    Are heart conditions more common in elderly people?

    Yes, according to the British Heart Foundation, heart conditions and heart attacks, particularly those that are non-STEMI, happen more in older individuals. A non-STEMI heart attack is a type of heart attack where there is a partial blockage of blood flow to the heart. Approximately 60% of heart attacks fall into the non-STEMI category and are more common in older patients. More than half of non-STEMI heart attacks occur in patients aged 72 or older. Looking at this data, it is clear to see that heart attacks caused by heart conditions are more common in older people. 

    Are heart conditions more common in men or women?

    In previous years, cardiovascular conditions and heart problems have been viewed as a ‘male’ issue as men typically have a higher risk compared to women. It is important to note that the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases is actually higher in women. (Möller-Leimkühler, 2007). In essence, according to New Victoria Hospital, men are at a higher risk of developing heart conditions, yet women are at a higher risk of dying from a heart condition.

    How many people die from heart conditions in the UK each year?

    Heart and circulatory conditions contribute significantly to the mortality rate in the UK. Annually, over 170,000 deaths are attributed to these conditions, resulting in a quarter of all deaths in the country. This averages to around 480 deaths every day, which is one life lost every three minutes. These statistics are according to the British Heart Foundation

    How has heart research helped people in the UK?

    Heart research has significantly impacted the lives of individuals in the UK and around the world. Ongoing research has led to the development of innovative therapies, medications and surgical techniques that have improved outcomes for people with heart conditions in the UK. Charities like the British Heart Foundation and Heart Research UK post case studies that outline the impact of the work they do. Heart research in the UK offers hope, progress, and improvement in the lives of individuals affected by heart conditions. 

    What is heart health?

    Heart health refers to the overall well-being and optimal functioning of the cardiovascular system. It involves maintaining a healthy heart and circulatory system through lifestyle choices and habits. Several heart charities and organisations provide advice on maintaining a healthy heart, including the British Heart Foundation, The Association of UK Dietitians and Heart Research UK, which offer similar tips such as:

    • Eating a healthy diet

    • Getting plenty of physical exercise

    • Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption

    • Maintaining a healthy weight

    • Understanding risk factors

    Can you calculate your heart age?

    To calculate your heart age, you'll need to provide information about your weight, height, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels into an online NHS heart age calculator.. The calculator then compares this data to your real age, giving you an estimate of how healthy your heart is. It also provides recommendations on lifestyle changes to improve your heart age.

    What is Heart Month?

    Heart Month is a campaign created by the British Heart Foundation in the UK that raises awareness about heart and circulatory conditions, aiming to address the significant impact these conditions have on individuals and families. With someone losing their life to a heart or circulatory condition every three minutes, Heart Month encourages people to take action and support lifesaving research. The goal of Heart Month is to raise funds for pioneering research that can contribute to scientific breakthroughs and provide hope to those affected by heart conditions.

    When is Heart Month in 2024?

    In 2024, Heart Month is observed throughout the month of February. his dedicated month serves as a time to raise awareness about heart and circulatory conditions, promote heart-healthy lifestyles, and encourage fundraising for lifesaving research.

    Who organises Heart Month?

    Heart Month is organised by the British Heart Foundation (often shortened to the BHF). The British Heart Foundation is a charity that is dedicated to funding research to prevent, diagnose, and treat heart and circulatory diseases. Through initiatives like Heart Month, the BHF aims to raise awareness, promote heart health, and fund research that contributes to advancements in the understanding and management of cardiovascular conditions.

    What is the theme for Heart Month 2024?

    The theme for Heart Month 2024 is "Go Red." The emphasis is on encouraging individuals to wear red, participate in various activities such as organising healthy red-themed bake sales, taking on sponsored challenges, and promote the learning of CPR with RevivR. The general goal of the theme is to raise funds for lifesaving research, promote heart health, and encourage people to protect their hearts.

    What is the history of Heart Month?

    Heart Month has a history dating back over a decade, originating as a global awareness initiative focused on the prevalence and impact of heart conditions on people of all ages. In its early years, the campaign centred around Valentine's Day in February, symbolising a time for love but also remembrance for families affected by sudden cardiac death. Over the years, Heart Month has evolved into an annual 4-week campaign that is celebrated by many heart-based charities. 

    How can I take part in Heart Month?

    To take part in Heart Month 2024, there are a number of things that you can do. Firstly, you can sign up with the British Heart Foundation. You can also set up a fundraising page with them, alongside the help of a local fundraising manger which you can find on their website.

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