Ladies, Beware of Your Hearts: Heart Disease Awareness

February is National Heart Disease Awareness month, so ladies listen up . . . According to the American Heart Association, in the United States alone, cardiovascular disease and stroke are two major causes of death in women. In fact, one in every three female deaths annually is attributed to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Think about that, ladies, and let it sink in – that’s approximately one woman succumbing to heart disease every 80 seconds!

Many people believe heart disease is purely a “man’s” problem. Don’t fool yourselves. Once a woman reaches menopause her risk of heart disease equals that of a man the same age. And, what’s scarier is, women’s symptoms rarely mimic those of a man, and can be as subtle as vague back pain or a bit of indigestion. Equally as frightening is an estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease – and, many of them don’t even know it. Want another eye-opening statistic . . . women are less likely to survive a first heart attack than a man.
 
Okay, so what can you do? Well, first of all know that 80% of heart disease and stroke can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes. Secondly, it’s important
to know your risk factors. For example, diabetics are at greater risk of developing heart disease. Do you smoke? Guess what, you have a greater risk, too. Hispanic women can develop heart disease 10 years earlier than white women. And, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in black females.
 
There are two types of risk factors, those that can be modified and those that cannot. Non-modifiable risk factors include age, sex, race, and family history. Modifiable risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol intake, weight and diabetes. These can all be modified with simple lifestyle changes: CONTROL your blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol; STOP smoking; drink alcohol in MODERATION, diet to REDUCE your weight – and, get off your butts. Of course, you’ll want to consult your primary care provider or cardiologist before starting any exercise program.
 
So, ladies – be smart and take charge. Cardiovascular disease can be controlled. Remember, the life you save just may be your own.

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