Elizabeth S. Reames | 2/14/2008 2:26:55 AM
February is American Heart Month. Women will again “Go Red for Women” by wearing something red or special pin 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.
“The campaign’s aim is to empower women to take charge of their heart health, make it a top priority and live a stronger, longer life,” says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
Cardiovascular diseases claim more women's lives than the next seven causes of death combined. “That’s about 500,000 lives a year,” Reames says.
A special red dress pin available from the association can be worn to show support for women affected by heart disease and stroke.
American Heart Association data 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 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 unexpectedly of heart disease have no previous symptoms.
– Black and Hispanic women have higher risk factors than white women of comparable socioeconomic status.
The campaign has 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 911 immediately if any occur. Warnings include:
– 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.
– Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
– Shortness of breath: often comes along with chest discomfort, but it can occur before the discomfort.
– Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.