February is American Heart Month. Eating right and being active are at the top of the healthy heart pyramid, so to speak, along with getting enough sleep and managing your daily stress levels. The American Heart Association affiliate in Louisville shares all kinds of recipes, tips, and health news for keeping your heart as healthy as possible. They are active online at heart.org/Louisville and @HeartKentucky on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
AHA Louisville works across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to educate people about heart disease and stroke, like knowing the risks, signs, and symptoms of a heart attack, which can look different for women and men. “Ultimately, we are helping create equitable health for all,” said Ashley Sokoler, executive director. “As an organization, we work to ensure each and every person has the opportunity to live a full, healthy life.”
Advocacy work by AHA Louisville includes promoting healthy drinks like water through increased bottle filling stations and helping everyone breathe easier with Local Smoke-Free Communities. AHA wants to see tobacco and e-cigarettes gone from schools and communities.
“As champions for health equity, our 2024 goal is to advance cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality,” Ashley said. “We believe addressing the drivers of health disparities, including social determinates of health and structural racism, is the only way to truly achieve equitable health and well-being for all.”
AHA Louisville works with outpatient clinics and community partners in historically under-resourced areas, particularly through the “Target BP” and “Check. Change. Control.” programs for individuals with hypertension. The American Heart Association is improving food access for Kentuckiana residents in need because eating nutritious food is necessary for heart health. Exercise is also a necessity, and that is why the AHA helped pass the “Complete Streets” policy in Louisville, “a policy that makes communities and neighborhoods more livable by ensuring all people can get safely to where they need to go—work, school, the library, grocery stores or parks,” Ashley said.
Another advocacy objective is for the local Healthy Kids Meal policy to meet national standards. In addition to promoting nutrition, exercise, and all things that are heart-healthy, AHA is knowledgeable about medical care. “It is critical for the American Heart Association to elevate our relevance and resources around high-risk individuals who are more susceptible to the short- and long-term risks of COVID-19,” Ashley said. “But we need intellectual capital just as much as we need monetary capital.”
The American Heart Association was founded in 1924 by six cardiologists who got together in Chicago to establish a professional association for themselves. By the early 1960s, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) involved chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing to revive someone who wasn’t breathing properly.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is not practiced much anymore, since the introduction of hands-only CPR in 2008. The American Heart Association is a champion for hands-only CPR, even offering training by way of kiosks in large public places like airports. The kiosks feature a video and practice dummies to help people learn how to perform hands-only CPR. “It is one of my goals to bring the first CPR hands-only kiosk to Louisville,” Ashley said.
UPCOMING AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION EVENTS
National Wear Red Day - Friday, February 5th
Show how you wear red by using #GoRedKY and tagging @HeartKentucky
Southern Indiana Cycle Nation - Saturday, May 15th
2021 Louisville Heart Ball - Saturday, May 29th
2021 Louisville Go Red For Women - Friday, June 4th
2021 Kentuckiana Heart Walk - Saturday, September 18th