Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Understanding Heart Disease in Women

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women.

An estimated 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kills six times as many women as breast cancer.

I find this statistic to be startling! In fact, I’m sure if you ask many women today they probably would also be in disbelief.

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s nationwide movement to help women improve their heart health and live stronger, longer lives. Martin Memorial is a long-time supporter of the Red Dress Heart Truth campaign. Recently, Martin Memorial hosted its second-annual “Heart of a Woman” program to call attention to the rising incidence of heart disease in women through education. (The committee that put the program together is pictured at left) Heart disease is largely preventable, by living a healthy lifestyle and reducing your risk profile.

The risk factors you can’t control:
· Increasing age
· Gender
· Heredity (family health history) and race
· Previous stroke or heart attack

The risk factors you can control or treat:
· High blood pressure (hypertension) makes the heart work harder than normal, which makes both the heart and arteries more prone to injury. If you have hypertension, you may need to lose weight and be more active. Eat less salt and more fruits and vegetables. Take your medications as prescribed and limit alcohol consumption.
· Smoking is the single worst thing you can do for your arteries and heart. Smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease among women. Set a quit date and stick to it.
· Lipids (Cholesterol and Triglycerides) have no symptoms, and many people who have it don’t know it. It’s important to find out what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are, so you can lower them if you need to. Control your lipid levels with weight loss, exercise, wise food choices, and medications if prescribed.
· Inactive Lifestyle increases you’re your chances to develop heart disease. Regular, moderate to vigorous physical activity improves your cardiovascular fitness.
· Excess Weight can raise your blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of getting diabetes. Adhere to a sensible program of healthy eating and regular physical activity that will help you reach and stay at a healthier weight.
· Diabetes puts you at an even greater risk of cardiovascular disease. If you have diabetes, it is important to have regular medical check-ups. It’s vital to have your blood sugar controlled. Work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your diabetes.
· Stress over a long period of time and a unhealthy response to it, may create health problems in some people. Find healthy ways to handle stress.

Decide today to reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle changes. Take care of your heart by promising to love your heart.

--Melissa Zinderman
Cardiovascular Patient Educator

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