February 2024 marks the 60th American Heart Month and the American Heart Association's Centennial Anniversary. Heart Month is a time for people to focus on their heart health, raise awareness and prevention of heart disease and stroke, and brush up on lifesaving skills, such as CPR.
Recognizing Heart Month is just as important in 2024 as it was when it was started in the 1960s, and with their anniversary, the AHA is also exploring a century of heart disease progress. About 436,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, and cardiovascular disease continues to be one of the leading causes of death nationwide. Survival to hospital discharge remains low at around 9%, even for EMS-treated sudden cardiac arrest.
As a healthcare professional, you can use American Heart Month as an opportunity to educate yourself, your colleagues and your patients about heart health and sudden cardiac arrest. Here are some ways to honor this month that will have lasting effects throughout 2024 and beyond.
Educate Your Patients About Heart Health
Family history of heart conditions like coronary heart disease and arrhythmias increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. In fact, irregular heartbeats are a major risk factor for cardiac arrest in adults. While you can't prevent inherited risk factors, you can encourage your patients to lower their risk by making heart-healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthily, exercising regularly and quitting smoking.
Refresh Your CPR Skills
This month is a good time to brush up on your CPR skills. CPR is an essential link in the chain of survival for those who experience sudden cardiac arrest.
Stay Up to Date With CPR Training
Renewing your CPR certification keeps you compliant and ensures you're prepared to respond in emergencies. The Resuscitation Quality Improvement® (RQI®) Program provides quarterly high-quality CPR training sessions to prevent the skills decay that often happens with traditional biennial training.
Understand the Importance of Rapid Defibrillation
The chances of survival decline for every minute someone is in ventricular fibrillation (VF), so rapid defibrillation is essential. Having access to and knowing how to use a defibrillator can save the lives of patients experiencing sudden cardiac arrest with VF.
Brush Up on the 5 Components of High-Quality CPR
The American Heart Association has identified five components of high-quality CPR that contribute to higher survival rates. Frequent training and practice in these five skills can prepare you to respond to sudden cardiac arrest both in and out of the hospital.
Join the Nation of Lifesavers™
In honor of Heart Month and the American Heart Association's 100th birthday, the Association is encouraging everyone to learn CPR and become part of the Nation of Lifesavers™. You can encourage community members to take an online or in-person CPR course or watch a 60-second video on hands-only CPR to go from bystanders to lifesavers.
Encourage Kids to Learn CPR
Children as young as nine years old can learn CPR, potentially saving their peers' lives. Every year, about 23,000 children experience cardiac arrests outside the hospital. Find CPR classes around your area here.
Train Others on CPR
Promote training on bystander CPR, demonstrate how to use a defibrillator or encourage your staff to refresh their CPR skills. RQI Partners offers on-demand courses staff can take to learn CPR skills on their schedule. RQI Simulation Stations give them real-time feedback while they practice the components of high-quality CPR.
Recognize National Wear Red Day®
National Wear Red Day®, which falls on February 2nd this year, highlights the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Heart attack and stroke are leading causes of death for women, and they experience these symptoms differently than men. Understanding women's unique heart health risks and recognizing the signs of an emergency are imperative. Your organization can participate in this event by wearing red, decorating in red and hosting events to spread awareness and encourage a deeper understanding of heart disease in women.
Honor Heart Health This February — and All Year
Make an impact this American Heart Month by promoting heart health at your organization. Whether you share Heart Month resources with patients and staff, create educational events or refresh your CPR skills, the steps you take this month can have lasting benefits.