Columbia, MD – This February, firefighters and paramedics are joining the Howard County Health Department and others around the nation to fight back against heart disease and stroke. As part of American Heart Month, we are championing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Million Hearts™ campaign to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by the end of 2016. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with women suffering a heart attack every 90 seconds.

“In Howard County we each know someone who has been impacted by heart disease,” said County Executive Ken Ulman. “Let’s join others across the nation in becoming one in a million and protecting those we love by making heart-healthy choices.”

According to the CDC more than two million heart attacks and strokes happen each year, with 800,000 resulting in death. This year, in order to help prevent one million heart attacks and strokes, we encourage citizens to talk to their doctors about concerns, learn the facts about heart disease and help spread the message. It’s also important to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which are:

• Unusually heavy pressure on the chest, like there’s a ton of weight on you
• Sharp upper body pain in the neck, back, and jaw
• Severe shortness of breath
• Cold sweats (not hot flashes from menopause)
• Unusual or unexplained fatigue (tiredness)
• Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness
• Unexplained nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) or vomiting

The CDC estimates that one in three people in the U.S. have some form of heart disease, which can include severe chest pain, heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.

“We want to empower citizens to be equipped with the skills to help prevent heart attacks, stroke and disease,” said Fire Chief William Goddard. “That’s why we continually offer demonstrations and trainings so that everyone in the community can learn CPR.”

To schedule a CPR demonstration or training, contact Community Outreach Specialist Kelly Derthick at 410-313-6037 or kderthick@howardcountymd.gov. For more ideas on raising awareness about heart disease, taking steps to improve health and preventing one million heart attacks and strokes, please visit www.cdc.gov.