Why Sanford Health celebrates hearts each February

Health system partners with American Heart Association to promote heart health

drawing chart heartbeat

February is American Heart Month, and Sanford Health wants to make sure everyone hears about the importance of doing what you can to maintain a healthy heart.

Backed up by the information of experts, Heart Month is an effort to reach out to whole communities and make direct appeals to their welfare.

Find a location: Heart care at Sanford Health

The American Heart Association is working with the same set of priorities. It is a ready-made partnership that aligns the region’s most prominent heart care provider with an organization that has a long and impressive history promoting heart health.

“Since 1980, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have translated scientific evidence into clinical practice guidelines with recommendations to improve cardiovascular care to all people through awareness and education on risk factors and prevention,” said Dr. Tom Stys, a cardiologist at Sanford Cardiovascular Institute in Sioux Falls. “As cardiologists, we use these guidelines daily to ensure research-based quality of care is provided to patients.”

Since 1964, AHA has designated February as American Heart Month. Since 2002, the first Friday in February has been designated as National Wear Red Day to call attention to heart disease being the No. 1 cause of death for women.

It’s no coincidence that Sanford is the presenting sponsor for the Go Red for Women movement in Sioux Falls, then. It’s an important message aimed at those who can benefit most.

“Awareness, early intervention and prevention can save women’s lives from dramatic outcomes such as stroke, heart attacks and even death,” Dr. Stys said.

In short, the AHA is a great teammate for Sanford Health.

“It’s important for Sanford to give back to nonprofit organizations that further our mission. Sanford can’t do it alone,” said Stacy Wrightsman, Sanford Health executive director of community relations. “We rely on community-based education services, advocacy support and education support for our patients that really meet their needs.”

Together, then, they get the word out about the importance of paying attention to your heart.

“Both organizations share a passionate mission to create a world that includes longer, healthier lives for everyone,” said AHA communications director Chrissy Meyer. “We bring that to life with research we do and our public health education. Our partnership with Sanford allows us the opportunity to help fund our mission.”

Spreading that message is important every month, of course, but proactively making it a focus every February is a good reminder.

The AHA says in most cases, heart disease is preventable when people adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes:

  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling blood sugar and cholesterol
  • Treating high blood pressure
  • Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week
  • Getting regular checkups

“We advocate for people to think about making small changes in their lives that can have a gigantic impact on their overall health,” Wrightsman said. “We’re really advocating for people to go get their health score and get their baseline screenings. A lot of times when you’re symptomatic, you’re too late.”

Events like the AHA Heart Walk and Go Red for Women serve to raise money for the AHA but also get people more engaged in heart health.

“One of the cool things is that something like Heart Walk and Go Red for Women is that they’re fun,” Wrightsman said. “It’s a pride point for Sanford to be a presenting sponsor. We have the opportunity to be alongside a very reputable organization that is doing some great things in heart health.”

It’s a mutual effort that will continue.

“There’s a lot more to it than just putting the Sanford logo on a poster at the Heart Walk,” Meyer said. “It’s about being partners in the community and educating people about how they live their healthiest and best life.”

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Posted In Community, Heart