Elizabeth S. Reames | 2/1/2008 3:27:29 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.
– 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.
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.