February is American Heart Month. This is something that is truly close to me. You may not know it, but I have a heart condition. It is called CHF, short for congestive heart failure. When most people hear heart disease, they think of heart attacks or strokes. What many don’t realize is that there are many different types of heart disease. Let me explain first by breaking down what American Heart Month is all about.
American Heart Month
American Heart Month is observed to emphasize the significance of maintaining a healthy heart and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices that lower the risk of heart disease. It’s mainly to teach others about the dangers of it. Every year thousands die from heart disease. Heart disease can affect all ages (including children), races, and types of people. What many don’t realize is that it can even affect the healthiest of people.
You might be wondering what the signs are. When the arteries that lead to the heart become clogged, heart disease occurs. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and excessive alcohol consumption are all risk factors. So, the month of February is dedicated to the heart to raise awareness, with red being assigned to symbolize the heart.
With that being said… as I mentioned, I have heart disease and I’m sure some are curious.
I was diagnosed in 2011 with a heart condition–CHF. CHF is congestive heart failure. In short, it indicates that the heart is not pumping blood appropriately. In my case it is different. I didn’t have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, I didn’t smoke or even have diabetes, and I didn’t drink. I had bronchitis and I didn’t take care of it and the infection went straight to my heart. The infection caused so much damage to my heart that it only pumps 15%. Yes, you read that right–a simple bronchitis caused this life-changing disease. The disease caused so much irreversible damage that I had to have a pacemaker and defibrillator put in.
I am truly grateful to the American Heart Association. When I got diagnosed, I was scared and felt alone like no one understood me. I’m the only one in my family with heart disease. The American Heart Association is so important when it comes to raising awareness. It helped me and my family understand what I had.
It’s hard for me to not have control and each day is a struggle. Even to this day after many years with it. I dove deep into the American Heart Association and learned as much as possible. I followed everything my doctor said to do and drank all my medications. Then I went from getting around in a wheelchair because I could barely breathe and almost getting on a transplant list to who I am now–no wheelchair and no heart transplant! And that is a huge accomplishment in this long, horrible disease. Remember everyone is different, everyone’s disease is different for them. That’s my story of how I battle each day with congestive heart failure.
Heart disease is a long-term disease.
And an ongoing illness. There is so much to learn about heart disease so I suggest checking out this helpful resource to understand more. If you have a loved one who is suffering from a heart condition, take my advice: check out the website, and gain more knowledge. It will help you understand what they are going through. So, let’s spread the word and help others better understand heart disease, and let’s wear red in February.
Updated February 2024