February is American Heart Month and to celebrate, we’ve asked Mike Gonzalez, Regional Director of Multicultural Initiatives at the American Heart Association to give us a few tips on how to celebrate.
Mike Gonzalez is the Regional Director of Multicultural Initiatives at the American Heart Association. His foray into public health started in school, but was solidified during his internship with a local public health department where he was working to improve and expand on healthy eating programs throughout agricultural communities in California. Through this internship, he saw first-hand the compounded effects that low access and low resources have on entire communities.
In his current role in the American Heart Association, Mike works to achieve the AHA’s 2020 impact goals by engaging in prevention and recovery for multicultural communities. Within prevention programs, Mike extolls the importance of knowing your biometric numbers, as well as the importance of healthy eating and active living. Within recovery education, Mike and his team help to ensure high survival rates for those who are affected by heart disease.
American Heart Month is an entire month dedicated to talking about heart health. Heart disease is one of the top chronic diseases affecting Americans and disproportionately, it affects communities with low resources and low access to healthy food or physical activity. February gives Americans the opportunity to raise awareness for this disease, as well as opportunities to advance our knowledge and understanding of how it can be prevented and treated. Multicultural communities should take special care to celebrate during this month because African American and Asian communities have higher rates of stroke and Latinos have higher rates of heart disease.
American Heart Month starts the discussion for all partner agencies to bring heart health into the conversation, but presents specific actions for individuals to take in order to ensure their own heart health.
Ways to celebrate American Heart Month
- Know your numbers! It is important to know your indicator numbers: blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and BMI. If your access to these indicator tests is limited, knowing your blood pressure and BMI are great places to start, as they provide a window to your health. Call the AHA if you need help understanding what the numbers mean.
- Engage in physical activity in open space! Parks are low-cost (often no-cost) areas to stay healthy in your community. Even walking to the park to sit for 15 minutes lowers your stress level, a major trigger for high blood pressure. If you are in the Bay Area, visit hphpbayarea.org to find a free park program near you.
To learn more about Mike Gonzalez's work at the American Heart Association, visit the American Heart Association of the Greater Bay Area online.