Heart health is a major issue, with the American Heart Association (AHA) revealing that one person dies of cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds.
That’s roughly 95 deaths per hour or 2,300 deaths each and every day. No matter what number resonates with you most, it’s hard to argue the fact that it’s simply too many.
Because this particular topic is so important and affects so many people, the AHA shares that, since 1964, February has been designated as American Heart Month. As a healthcare provider, this puts you in the perfect position to help your patients understand the importance of looking after their heart all month long, as well as during the remainder of the calendar year.
How can you do that? Here are four options to consider.
1. Educate your patients about their heart
Though many people realize that their heart is necessary in order to sustain life, very few realize how disease can set in to this critical organ. Thus, educating your patients about the top causes of heart disease may help them realize that their heart’s health is largely in their hands.
For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three of the top risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Others include being diagnosed with diabetes, being overweight (which often goes along with eating poorly and not getting enough activity) and drinking to excess.
Therefore, if you know that one of your patients has one or more of these risk factors—which are largely controllable and behavior-based—you could educate them about what it may be doing to their heart. Sometimes people don’t realize the impact that certain actions have on their body. Even if they are already aware, mentioning it again can serve as a gentle reminder that they could be doing some irreparable harm to this particular organ.
2. Turn it into a competition
Sometimes the best motivator is a little competition. So, why not take advantage of this during American Heart Month by challenging your patients to strive for better heart health by asking them to compete against each other?
For example, knowing that exercise is good for the heart, you could award a prize to the person who walks the most miles in the month of February. Or, you could give a free adjustment to the person who ate the most servings of vegetables.
Another option would be to create a heart-health quiz and, if your patient got all of the answers right, put them in a drawing for a free product or service. Be creative and see what you can come up with.
3. Hold a heart health event
Just because you specialize in musculoskeletal health doesn’t mean that you can’t promote other types of wellness. In fact, not only does taking the approach of full-body health help establish you as a healthcare expert, it also shows your patients that you care about their total health and wellness, even if it involves areas you don’t specifically treat.
One way to do this is to partner with your area hospital, cardiac facility or cardiac health provider and hold a seminar in your office about the various ways to prevent or help treat heart-related issues. You could focus on what it means to eat a heart healthy diet (which is a diet rich in fruits, veggies, grains, and healthy fats), for instance, or you could use this event as an opportunity to share with your patients various exercise options that are good for the heart (many of which are cardio in nature).
You could also hold a walk to increase awareness of heart health while also having participants engage in an activity that can help strengthen their own. Turning it into a fundraiser for a heart-based organization can help advance research in this field and support the cause even further.
4. Wear red the entire month of February
This tactic works extremely well at raising heart health awareness, especially if your normal dress code involves wearing only blue, black, or some other color. Patients who have been treating with you for a long time will likely pick up on the change immediately, giving you the prime opportunity to share why you and your staff are choosing to wear red during the month of February.
If you want to take it one step further, you could have t-shirts or polos made with logos showing that you care about heart health and wear them on these predesignated days. You could even continue this tread by wearing those shirts on certain days throughout the rest of the year (like every Friday or the last Friday of every month), again, encouraging a heart-health conversation even when it isn’t American Heart Month.
Heart health is critical and doing these four things can help increase your patients’ awareness of this. It helps constantly reinforce your own awareness as well, which is also a very good thing to do.