Elizabeth S. Reames, Claesgens, Mark A. | 1/26/2007 4:22:46 AM
February is American Heart Month. Women throughout America are again asked to "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 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 – that’s about 500,000 lives a year.
Friday, Feb. 2 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 the campaign.
Reames says facts about cardiovascular disease are shocking. American Heart Association statistics reveal that:
– 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 more than 500,000 women each year, about one death per minute.
– One in 29 women dies of breast cancer. About 1 in 2.4 women dies of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
– One in five women has some form of cardiovascular disease.
– Sixty-three 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 urges women to heed the three basic health messages of the month-long campaign:
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, keeping your 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. 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 911 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 link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com.