Here we are in the middle of February. Valentine’s Day is just a couple of days away. In the Mid-Atlantic, the air is crisp and cold, perfect for getting cozy with loved ones in front of a fire. The American Heart Association (AHA) reminds us it’s also time to think about a serious matter of the heart: Heart health. Thanks to advances in medical care and health promotion, fewer people are dying from heart disease and stroke, but AHA estimates that more than 85 million people in the US are now living with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and are at risk for heart attacks and strokes. For American Heart Month, AHA offers a wide variety of resources, from information and factsheets on heart disease and heart health, to guides and manuals for programs you can put together in your workplace, community center, or congregation.
For many reasons, CVD is also a risk for people with other disabilities, including lower physical activity levels, access to healthy foods, lack of knowledge about or access to health screening, smoking, and other factors. With information and resources in hand, you can work with your healthcare provider to make changes that lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other consequences of CVD.
- For people with spinal cord injury, risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity are higher, meaning higher risk for CVD, according to the NIDILRR-funded Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System Center. They suggest real changes you can make to live a healthier life with SCI. The University of Alabama Model SCI Center covers cardiovascular health in this video, part of a series on secondary conditions in SCI.
- Women with mobility impairments are more likely to be obese and at risk for CVD, according to the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities. Check out their GoWoman Weight Management Program, a 16-week program that combines nutrition and physical activity education with online support using Second Life, developed under a NIDILRR field initiated project.
- People aging with intellectual or developmental disabilities are also likely to face CVD. The NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Developmental Disabilities and Health developed HealthMatters, a health promotion program for people with I/DD to manage their health by being more physically active and making healthier food choices.
- The RRTC on Self-Directed Recovery and Integrated Health Care has several projects focused on health promotion for people with psychiatric disabilities. Learn how to organize an inclusive health fair (PDF) for people in recovery and listen to their podcast Is Your Heart in It to Win It (mp3) to learn the risks of heart disease and their connection to psychiatric disability.
These are just a few resources from the NIDILRR community you can use right now to learn about your risk for CVD and make changes to live a healthier life.
You may also be interested in these articles, books, reports, and other publications on heart health, heart disease, and other cardiovascular issues from the NIDILRR community and other sources, all available from our collection.