Yesterday marked the official end of American Heart Month, the national initiative to drive awareness about heart health and cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death in the United States. Looking back, it’s interesting to see how this national awareness month affected conversation and behavior online. Examining Twitter specifically*:

  • At least 4,918 tweets used the hash tag #HeartMonth (an 86% increase over 2011 activity)
    • 12% of these tweets occurred on Feb 1
    • The second-highest activity date was Feb 3, driven by Heart Month posts/articles from @LeeDeWyze of American Idol fame)
    • The total tweet reach (based on followers) was 16,282,190
  • Most popular handles tweeting this hash tag:
  • Other popular hash tags within these tweets:
    • #heart
    • #heartdisease
    • #hearthealth
    • #GoRed
    • #twibbon (a support badge for Twitter profile avatars)
    • #wellwomenSharecareNow 10 - Heart Disease

On February 21, WCG joined Sharecare in launching the SharecareNow 10 – Heart Disease to recognize those authors who were contributing to and driving the online conversation around heart disease (and much of the above statistics). We thought it would be interesting to catch up with these influencers and see what they were up to during Heart Month:

#1 American Heart Association,
An unmistakable leader in the fight against heart disease (and the driver behind Heart Month), the American Heart Association was highly active on Twitter and Facebook, syndicating relevant information and directly engaging with followers. They even encouraged followers to suggest songs to be included in their “AHA Love Songs” playlist on Pandora. On its website, the AHA also showcased various initiatives, including the Go Red for Women campaign (“more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined”), and Teaching Gardens (“… a new approach in the fight against childhood obesity”).

#2 Shelley Wood,
Shelly Wood remained busy on Twitter throughout February (further syndicated through her publication’s handle @theheartorg). She also reported on industry news, producing an article (on Valentine’s Day) regarding a study of vitamin-D supplementation and its cardiovascular effects, prompting commentary on the meaning of the study results.

#3 Larry Husten, CardioBrief
Larry Husten posted 24 articles to CardioBrief throughout the month, covering FDA approvals, new biomedical and pharmaceutical offerings, study results and other industry news. He also included guest posts from Tom Yates of Sick Populations and Edward J. Schloss, MD. One of Larry’s more fascinating pieces cited a new study suggesting the Y chromosome might explain why men have earlier coronary disease.

#4 Richard N. Fogoros, M.D., – Heart Disease
With 9 posts on in February, Dr. Fogoros kept his readers up-to-date on new studies and information about subjects from sleep deprivation and heart disease to mitral stenosis. One standout piece was his breakdown of a study on how heart attack symptoms are often different for women, subsequently leading to increased risks.

#5 Chris Kaiser, MedPage Today
Chris Kaiser kicked off his February with coverage of the International Stroke Association, producing a number articles including one on the association of stroke and sleep apnea. Also, while not highly active on Twitter, his February activity did increase 500% over January.

#6 Carolyn Thomas, Heart Sisters
Though enduring the loss of her mother (and our thoughts are with her and her family), Carolyn provided 8 posts throughout the month, including a particularly thoughtful and informative piece: “Six rules for navigating your next doctor’s appointment”.

#7 Stephen Sinatra, Dr. Sinatra’s Healthy Heart Blog
Dr. Sinatra decided to start February by driving awareness about heart health, a post shared more than 350 times on Facebook. In all, he posted a total of 15 times throughout the month on his Healthy Heart Blog,

#8 Tara Parker-Pope, Well – New York Times
With a broad range of topic areas related to health, Tara Parker-Pope and the New York Times Well Blog were highly relevant and engaged throughout the month. Her stories during February ranged from statin safety to healthy recipes, closing the month out with a piece on some new safety alerts for cholesterol drugs.

#9 Deepak Chopra, The Huffington Post
Always incredibly active on numerous online channels – across a number of topics – Deepak Chopra also published a series of three blog posts on what he calls “higher health,” through which individuals can learn to gain control of their bodies.

#10 Michael O’Riordan –
Similar to Shelley Wood – his counterpart on this list – Michael O’Riordan was active during the month of February. Perhaps most fascinating were his pieces on why cardiac death risk is highest in early morning, and how retired NFL players have lower mortality and cardio vascular disease rates … well, at least the smaller players.

If there’s one thing for certain, these individuals and organizations will continue conversation about heart health and cardiovascular disease throughout 2012 … even without the push of American Heart Month.

Bob Pearson & Adam Pedowitz

(*Source: Radian6 data)

Disclaimer: WCG works with a number of pharmaceutical companies, including some that provide treatments for heart disease. These clients have not participated in the SharecareNow 10 analysis. Sharecare is a client of WCG.