21 Feb Women – Don’t forget the HEART of the matter
Since 1963, February has been celebrated as American Heart Month to urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack. You can greatly reduce your risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. In addition since 2004 there has been a focus on heart health in women.
While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman has signs or symptoms. A woman may have the following symptoms that can signal heart disease:
- chest pain or discomfort,
- upper back pain,
- indigestion or heartburn,
- extreme fatigue,
- upper body discomfort
- shortness of breath.
- fluttering feelings in the chest.
Fortunately there are several lifestyle changes that can help women reduce the risk of heart disease or a heart attack. In fact lifestyle changes can have a big impact on reducing a persons risk of heart disease. You can lower your chance of heart disease and a heart attack by taking simple steps.
- Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Be physically active. Adults should strive for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of physical activity each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
- Be smoke-free. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
- Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women. Do not drink at all if you are pregnant.