American Heart Month — February 2019

Article Metrics

Views equals page views plus PDF downloads

Related Materials

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, and heart attacks are a major category of heart disease; someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds (1). February is American Heart Month, an ideal time to remind all adults to focus on their hearts and encourage them, their families, friends, and communities to learn the important signs and symptoms of heart attack and how to respond. Recognizing that someone might be having a heart attack and calling emergency services (9-1-1) are crucial for optimizing access to lifesaving emergency cardiac care and receipt of advanced treatments and improving survival. Five common symptoms of a heart attack are 1) pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back; 2) feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint; 3) chest pain or discomfort; 4) pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder; and 5) shortness of breath. If someone is suspected to be having a heart attack, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.

A report in this issue of MMWR shows that, although the percentage of persons who are aware of all five heart attack symptoms increased from 39.6% in 2008 to 50.2% in 2017, sociodemographic disparities existed (2). Education is needed to more widely disseminate information about how to recognize a possible heart attack and contact lifesaving emergency services.


  1. Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, et al. ; American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2017;135:e146–603. CrossRef PubMed
  2. Fang J, Luncheon C, Ayala C, Odom E, Loustalot F. Awareness of heart attack symptoms and response among adults—United States, 2008, 2014 and 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019.68:101–6.

Suggested citation for this article: American Heart Month — February 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:101. DOI:

MMWR and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report are service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

All HTML versions of MMWR articles are generated from final proofs through an automated process. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version ( and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables.

Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to

View Page In: PDF [92K]