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February: A month close to the heart


Fri, Feb 10th 2023 05:20 pm

By Erie County 3rd District Legislator Michael H. Kooshoian

February may be the shortest month of the year, but there’s no shortage of reasons to celebrate. Beginning with a month-long observance of Black history to a holiday dedicated to love, colorful Mardi-Gras floats, and a Super Bowl we sadly weren’t a part of this year, there’s an occasion to gather friends and family for. It’s nice to have things to look forward to in what feels like the coldest time of the year and according to Punxsutawney Phil, we’re in for an extended winter.

While not everyone might partake in flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s day, everyone can recognize February, additionally, as American Heart Month. Heart disease can affect anyone, any age, at any time.

After the nation witnessed Damar Hamlin’s shocking cardiac arrest on live television, and hearing about Kim Pegula’s own devastating experience, now more than ever, it seems crucial to be aware of potential warning signs and ways to help someone in cardiac distress.

We are always given the obvious advice from our doctors to eat healthy, exercise and limit stress. However, these are not always failproof. Many things can contribute to poor heart health. Maybe genetics cannot be avoided, but one thing that’s for sure is having knowledge and being able to perform CPR correctly can greatly help someone’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest or heart attack.

Damar has teamed up with the American Heart Association for the #3forHeart CPR challenge, which encourages people to learn CPR through a short instructional video, and donate to help fund CPR education, training and scientific research.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on learning approach, there are in-person courses available through various organizations. My wife and I took a class focused on CPR for children when our girls were born. Now that they are about to turn 3, it’s about time for a refresher, along with learning how to assist an adult. Below I’ll share a couple links to find available classes both online, in person, or a combination of the two. The certifications last two years. You can type in cpr.heart.org and follow the prompts to find a class at your convenience that is close to you. The link for courses offered by The American Red Cross is https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr.

Furthermore, Erie County provides education and resources through community outreach and events to help our districts learn some of the things that can be controlled when it comes to heart health and wellness. A request form is available for schools and local organizations that wish to engage the county to host presentations, health fairs, or even something as simple as distributing informational material.

There are a variety of topics available, which include preventing and managing chronic disease, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, ways to reduce previously mentioned stress, nutrition information, incorporating mindfulness into daily routines, and family-friendly physical activity opportunities within the community.

That form can be found using https://www3.erie.gov/health/outreach-education-health-fairs or by emailing the Erie County Community Wellness Department at [email protected].

I know I speak for everyone when I wish Damar Hamlin, Kim Pegula, and anyone who has dealt with heart-related conditions all the best in their recoveries. Stay warm, and here’s hoping spring will find us sooner than later. As always, I welcome you to reach out to my district office at 716-832-0493 with any questions or concerns.

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