LAKE OCONEE — February is National Heart Month. In a given day more that 2,200 Americans lose their life to heart disease. That averages out to one death every 39 seconds. Though heart disease affects both men and women alike, most Americans may not realize that heart disease is the number one killer of women. In 2003 the American Heart Association (AHA) launched National Wear Red Day® to bring attention to cardiovascular disease, which claimed the life of nearly 500,000 American women each year. In 2004, the AHA created Go Red for Women to educate women on heart disease, help women come together to show their support, and increase funding for heart disease research and treatments for those in need. Knowledge is power! The more you know the more you can prevent heart disease from affecting you. Here are some general statistics about woman and heart disease.
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
- Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
- An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
- Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
- The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.
- Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
- Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.
So are you at risk for heart disease? Do you know the factors that put you at risk? There are general risk factors and then risk factors that put you at higher risk of suffering from heart disease. Making small changes in the way you eat, sleep, exercise and how you handle stress can make a big difference in decreasing your risk. Again, knowledge is power! Know what the risks are and try to change the things that put you at risk.
General risk factors are:
One or more major risk factors:
- Cigarette smoking
- Poor diet
- Lack of regular physical activity
- Overweight - Body Mass Index of 25-29.9 or Obesity – Body Mass Index higher than 30.
- Family history of heart or vascular disease
- Blood pressure higher than 120/80
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Heart and other vascular diseases
- Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Metabolic syndrome
- Pregnancy complications including: the development of high blood pressure or diabetes, delivering a pre term infant.
You are at high risk of developing heart disease if you have one or more of the following:
- Existing coronary heart disease,
- Stroke or carotid artery disease
- Blocked arteries in your legs
- Chronic kidney disease
Knowing your risk is important. A lot of women who consider themselves healthy often misdiagnose the symptoms of a heart attack because they don’t think it could happen to them. Symptoms of a heart attacks are:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
So, this Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 show your support and wear red to celebrate National Wear Red Day.
If you have a nutrition question you’d like answered in this column send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Question for the Breeze” as the subject title.
Lisa Eisele, RD, CSO, LD, can be reached at (706) 473-5801.