Hearts On Parade Along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue

February 06, 2011

It’s hard to see much more than snow in Chicago right now, but if you travel to the Magnificent Mile, you can gaze your eyes upon blooming pieces of colorful art.

February is National Heart Month. To celebrate, Chicago’s Mag Mile will be displaying 100, one-of-a-kind, five-foot heart sculptures throughout the month as part of “Hearts a Bluhm.”

Blackhawks emblem

There are hearts designed for Chicago Blackhawks, Cubs, Sox, Bears and Bulls.

The city-wide cardiovascular awareness campaign was created by Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute to educate the public about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America.

Here are the sobering numbers. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease:

*Causes one in every 2.9 deaths in the United States

*Takes 2,300 American lives daily

*Averages 1 death every 23 seconds

According to the Greater Illinois American Heart Association, nearly 34 percent of all deaths in Illinois each year are the result of heart disease.

The hearts were created by students, staff and alumni of Columbia College Chicago, the campaign’s artistic partner. Situated along North Michigan Avenue in public sidewalk planters and thoroughfares, each display includes heart health facts and tips to teach residents about this treatable disease.

“As one of the country’s leading heart centers, the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is proud to be using this exhibit to generate much-needed awareness about cardiovascular disease and its prevention,” says Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “‘Hearts a Bluhm’ is a reminder to the public that heart disease is preventable and our goal is to inspire individuals to live a healthy lifestyle each and every day to limit their risks to the disease.”

To bring attention to this cause, many of Chicago’s building will be displaying red lights throughout February in honor of National Heart Month, including the Willis Tower, the Wrigley Building and the Hancock Observatory.

Here are the top tips for maintaining a healthy heart from the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute:

* Don’t smoke. It’s the most significant risk factor for developing heart disease.

* Watch your waistline. A body mass index of 25 or higher increases your risk.

* Watch your blood pressure. The optimal numbers are less than 120/80.

* Watch your cholesterol. Eighty percent of people who have a heart attack have high cholesterol. Optimally, it would fall under 200.

* Exercise. You should get physical activity at least 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day.

* Call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, including chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and jaw pain.

* Eat well. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and low in sodium and simple sugars are best for your heart.

The Institute says that the risk for coronary artery disease increases after age 45 for men and 55 for women, but that heart attack prevention is as easy as ABC:

*Avoid tobacco

*Become more active

*Choose good nutrition.

Not something you want to hear on Super Bowl Sunday, huh?

Check out these beautiful hearts and become more heart healthy today. Or, at least by tomorrow.

The hearts are currently up for sale. Proceeds will benefit cardiovascular programs at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute as well as art scholarships at Columbia College Chicago.

For more information on this campaign, visit heartsabluhm.org or heart.nmh.org.

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