Wear Red In February And Take Charge Of Heart Health

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  2/1/2006 12:07:36 AM

Wear red during February to help raise awareness of heart disease, women’s No. 1 killer.

News You Can Use For February 2006

February is American Heart Month. Women throughout America will again "Go Red for Women" by wearing red to raise awareness of heart disease, women’s No. 1 killer.

The American Heart Association’s campaign is a call to action for women to take charge of their heart health.

LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames says the campaign aims to empower women to take charge of their heart health, make it a top priority and live a stronger, longer life. She notes that cardiovascular diseases claim more women's lives than the next seven causes of death combined – about 500,000 lives a year!

Feb. 3 is National Wear Red Day for Women. Everyone is encouraged to wear red clothing on that day to show support of all women who have been touched by heart disease or stroke. A special Red Dress pin available from the association can be worn to show support for women affected by heart disease and stroke.

Reames says misperceptions still exist that cardiovascular disease is not a real problem for women. Information from the American Heart Association reveals several facts:

– Heart disease and stroke are the  No. 1 and No. 3 killers of American women over age 25.

– Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill over 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 says the campaign has three basic health messages:

Know your risk factors for heart disease and stroke, which include obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Reduce your risk. Maintain a desirable weight: keep body mass index (BMI) below 25; 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.

Know the warning signs of heart attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately if any occur. One sign is discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Another sign is pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. An additional sign is shortness of breath, often with chest discomfort, but can occur before the discomfort. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

For related healthful lifestyle information, click on the Family and Home or Food and Health links on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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