President Obama declares February as American Heart Month

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Days after detailing plans to develop personalized ways to prevent and treat disease, President Obama helped kick start the annual awareness campaign against the nation's No. 1 killer by declaring February as American Heart Month.

"My Administration is committed to leading a new era of medicine -- one that delivers the right treatment at the right time -- and to ensuring Americans live longer, healthier, more productive lives," Obama wrote.

As the federal declaration notes, "cardiovascular disease -- including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure -- is responsible for one out of every three deaths. It is the No. 1 killer of American women and men, and it is a leading cause of serious illness and disability."

Obama noted that while nearly half of all Americans have at least one major risk factor, many don't know it, and others are slow to act upon warning signs.

"That is why it is important to understand the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as obesity, inactivity, and diabetes, and to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control," Obama wrote. "By maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking, you can control risk factors and help protect your heart."

The American Heart Association helps lead the fight through awareness, education and funding of medical research. The organization has invested more than $3.7 billion into studies, including more than $100 million annually since 1996, the most of any entity outside the federal government.

The AHA began in 1924, and the tradition of American Heart Month began in 1964. Amazing progress has been made since that heightened awareness. Still, cardiovascular disease account for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

"We have lost devoted mothers and fathers, loved siblings, and cherished friends to this devastating epidemic," Obama wrote. "During American Heart Month, as we honor their memories, let us recommit to improving our heart health and continuing the fight against this deadly disease, for ourselves and our families."

Obama pointed out that millions of Americans have greater access to health care through the Affordable Care Act. He added other steps his administration has taken, including the Million Hearts Hearts initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.

The president also wrote that he and the First Lady will wear red on Friday in celebration of National Wear Red Day. "By wearing red, we help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and provide an important reminder that it is never too early to take action to protect our health," he wrote. "This month, let us reaffirm our resolve to fight this epidemic and continue our work to build a brighter future for our families."

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