The Heart of the Matter

Emily Tipping picture

If you weren’t already aware that heart disease has been the top cause of death in the United States for 100 years (according to the 2024 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: A Report of U.S. and Global Data From the American Heart Association), don’t worry. You’re far from alone. In fact, more than half (51%) of respondents to a 2023 Harris Poll survey conducted for the American Heart Association didn’t know that heart disease is the leading cause of death either. 

In other bad news, the COVID-19 pandemic had a disturbing effect when it comes to heart health. Statistical data from last year showed the largest single-year increase in cardiovascular-related deaths since 2015. This year also showed an increase, though smaller, according to the AHA. 

Why am I worrying you with all this news? Well, February is American Heart Month, so now is as good a time as any to educate yourself—and just as importantly, your members and visitors—about the importance of taking care of your health and preventing (and treating!) heart disease. 

The AHA’s statistical update for this year revealed that almost half of all people in the United States—48.6%—have some type of cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure. And many of them, unfortunately, are completely unaware that they are in danger. 

This is where you come in. From health and fitness clubs and rec centers to parks, pools and more, you’re likely already doing good work when it comes to helping people improve their heart health. 

Are you helping people get active? According to the National Institutes of Health, physical activity helps lower blood pressure and triglycerides, raises HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, helps your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels, reduces levels of C-reactive protein, a sign of inflammation and increased risk of heart disease. 

Are you helping people connect with others? A report from Harvard Medical School shows that people with richer social connections recover more quickly from heart attacks and other health setbacks, with heart attack survivors being four times more likely to die in the few years after their attack if they’re isolated. 

Are you providing people with nature connection? An abundance of research has demonstrated how nature helps boost our physical and mental health.

Whatever you’re doing to help keep people moving and connected with one another and with nature, keep it up! And be sure to check in on your own heart health regularly.  

Here’s to your heart!

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management
[email protected]



Please e-mail all comments, story ideas,
questions, good jokes and ponderances to:
[email protected]
OR send mail to:
Recreation Management, 50 N. Brockway St.,
Suite 4-11, Palatine, IL 60067
OR fax to: 847-963-8745