Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

American Heart Month: The Connection Between the Eyes and Heart Health

In 1963, a Joint Resolution from Congress requested that the President issue a proclamation each year designating February as “American Heart Month.” This commemoration continues to recognize the “importance of the ongoing fight against cardiovascular disease.” Despite advances in knowledge and treatment, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. The 2024 American Heart Month Presidential proclamation recommits to advancing healthy lifestyles and access to quality health care as well as furthering heart disease research and treatment. Heart health is closely connected to the health of the eyes. With a thorough eye examination, an eye doctor may detect evidence of both eye and heart disease, helping to diagnose cardiovascular disease earlier than ever before. A recent study, elaborated on in the next article, found that individuals with heart disease tended to have retinas showing signs of eye stroke. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent heart attack and stroke.

Keeping the Eyes and Heart Healthy

“Problems that damage blood vessels in the eye can also block blood vessels in the heart.” People with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, who are at risk for heart disease, may also develop age-related macular degeneration, blockage in retinal vessels, cataracts, and changes in eye pressure that can result in glaucoma, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). AAO offers a number of tips to maintain eye and heart health:

– Stop smoking cigarettes;
– Keep your weight in check;
– Eat healthy foods, like leafy greens and cold water fish;
– Know the family’s healthy history; and
– Be sure to have regular, comprehensive eye examinations.

For additional information on the connection between eye and heart health, read the AAO article advising how to Take Care of Your Eyes and Heart and the National Library of Medicine (of the National Institutes of Health) report documenting Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in US Adults With Vision Impairment. To learn more about the federal recognition of the February commemoration, visit The White House webpage featuring the full text of A Proclamation on American Heart Month, issued by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.