Elizabeth S. Reames | 4/22/2005 12:20:46 AM
LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames encourages women to wear something red on February 4 to show support of all women who have been touched by heart disease or stroke. Heart disease is women’s number 1 killer.
February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association’s month-long campaign is a call to action for women to take charge of their heart health. It aims to empower women to make heart health a top priority and live a stronger, longer life.
Cardiovascular diseases claim more women's lives than the next seven causes of death combined. That totals almost 500,000 lives a year!
A special red dress pin is available from the association that can be worn to show support for women affected by heart disease and stroke. Call 1-888-MY-HEART to request a pin, plus an educational brochure and wallet card with heart-healthy tips.
Reames says misperceptions still exist that cardiovascular disease is not a real problem for women. Information from the American Heart Association shows:
• Heart disease and stroke are the number 1 and number 3 killers of American women over age 25.
• Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more than 500,000 women each year — about one death a minute.
• 1 in 29 women dies of breast cancer. About 1 in 2.4 women dies of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
• 1 in 5 women has some form of cardiovascular disease.
• 63 percent of women who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms.
• Black and Hispanic women have higher risk factors than white women of comparable socioeconomic status.
Reames outlines the campaign’s three basic health messages:
1. Know your risk factors for heart disease and stroke, which include obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking and high blood pressure.
2. Reduce your risk: maintain a desirable weight; keep body mass index (BMI) below 25 and waistline less than 35 inches; exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week; don’t smoke – if you do, stop; eat a balanced diet (fruits, vegetables, cereal and grain products, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry and lean meat); maintain a total cholesterol level under 200 and an HDL level of 50 or higher; control your blood pressure - try to keep it below 120/80; schedule regular visits with your doctor.
3. Know the warning signs of heart attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately if any occur: a discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back, an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain; a pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath, which often comes along with chest discomfort, but can occur before the discomfort. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
For additional information about staying healthy, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/