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Healthy heart luncheon scheduled at Shawnee State University

PORTSMOUTH — Since 1963, Congress has required the president to proclaim February “American Heart Month” to urge Americans to join the battle against cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, the nation’s No. 1 killer. The American Heart Association works with the administration to draft and sign this annual proclamation.

To celebrate “American Heart Month,” the second annual luncheon to raise awareness and educate people on healthy heart lifestyles is scheduled at Shawnee State University from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 in the University Center’s Sodexo Ballroom. Community members, students, staff and special guests are invited to the luncheon.

Reservations to the luncheon must be made by Friday, Feb. 5. To register, call Debbie Howell at (740) 351-3210 or e-maildhowell@shawnee.edu. The Southern Ohio Medical Center and the SSU Department of Nursing are sponsoring the luncheon.

Lavonne Veloski will be the guest speaker at the luncheon. She is a recovered heart patient from the SOMC Heart and Vascular Center.

“We started this luncheon to raise awareness about heart disease and February is American Heart Month,” said Crystal Sherman, special projects coordinator for the event. “A faculty member also will be speaking on healthy heart choices.”

For the first time, the American Heart Association has defined “ideal cardiovascular health,” identifying seven health factors and lifestyle behaviors that support heart health.

The association created the definition as part of its effort to achieve its new national goal: By 2020, improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. This will be the first time the American Heart Association has adopted better health as a principal goal.

In a recent survey of adult Americans, the association found 39 percent said they thought they had ideal heart health; however, 54 percent of those (and 70 percent of all respondents) said a health professional had told them they had a risk factor for heart disease and/or needed to make a lifestyle change to improve their heart health.

These findings indicate most people don’t associate important risk factors, such as poor diet and physical inactivity, with cardiovascular disease.

To help people improve their heart health, the American Heart Association has developed a new online resource – My Life Check (www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck).

The short assessment easily identifies the seven goals for ideal health and notes where a person is on the spectrum, while additional tools and information offer specific action steps to improve the measurements and track personal progress toward better health.

Friday, Feb. 5 is National Wear Red Day to support “Go Red Day for Women” where everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness about heart disease in women.