360 Approach to Women’s Heart Health
As we come to the end of Heart Awareness Month, a few very real facts to keep in mind about heart health. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. — heart attacks kill more women than all cancers combined. Approximately 43 million women are affected in this country and the statistics are staggering; “nearly 1,100 women are still dying each day (1 in 4).”
If you are an African American woman or a Latina, you “have more risk factors than Caucasian women.” Here are the alarming facts:
African American Women
- Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African American women annually.
- Of African American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
- Only 1 in 5 African American women believes she is personally at risk.
- Only 52 percent of African American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of heart attack.
- Only 36 percent of African American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.
- Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women.
- Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their number one killer.
- Only 3 in 10 Hispanic women say they have been informed that they are at a higher risk.
- Only 1 in 4 Hispanic women is aware of treatment options.
- Hispanic women are more likely to take preventive actions for their family when it comes to health.
But you don’t have to be a victim. And you don’t have to become part of the statistics. You can apply a 360 approach in fighting heart disease – reducing the risk of becoming at risk by knowing the warning signs and adopting a proactive role in maintaining good health.
The Mayo Clinic lists the most common heart attack symptoms in women and they are often more subtle than what we have come to expect. Women are more likely than men, to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:
- Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Right arm pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Unusual fatigue
Womenshealth.gov recommends these preventative measures that can reduce a woman’s risk of heart disease:
Don’t smoke. Women who smoke increase their risk of heart attacks. Quitting can help significantly lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Have your blood pressure tested every 1 to 2 years. Work with your health professional to lower and manage high blood pressure.
Get tested for diabetes. Diabetics have high blood glucose, which is often symptomless. So get a regular blood glucose test. If you are diabetic, make sure to follow your doctor’s advice and treatment (whether it’s pills or insulin shot). A woman with diabetes has three to seven time higher than normal risk of developing heart disease.
Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Being overweight puts you at higher risk. Maintain a healthy weight relative to your Body Mass Index (a calculation of weight and height). You can start by changing up your diet and exercising:
- Add more fruits and vegetables, as well as grain to your menu.
- Include an exercise regime, 75 minutes twice a week, into your plan.
Exercise and a healthy diet will improve your overall wellbeing, physical and emotional health.
Limit your alcohol intake. You don’t have to give up your occasional glass of wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages. Just manage your intake.
Take control of your stress. Find healthy ways to manage daily stressors and their impact. Find time to do the things that you enjoy – with friends or solo. Taking charge of stress can considerably decrease your chances of having a heart disease.
Remember, if you are on prescribed medication for diabetes, cholesterol management, high blood pressure or any of the other conditions that make you a high risk candidate for heart disease, and you need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request your card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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