What do you need to know about heart health?
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
- Every year, approximately 715,000 Americans suffer from a heart attack.
- About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year, which accounts for one in four of all deaths.
Common types of heart conditions:
- Coronary heart disease: Also called coronary artery disease, this is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. This condition occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This disease can cause a heart attack, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias.
- Heart attack: According to the Mayo Clinic, a heart attack usually occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery. This can cause damage or destroy part of the heart muscle. Also known as a myocardial infarction, a heart attack can be fatal.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Feeling lightheaded, faint, or weak.
- Discomfort or pain in the chest.
- Shoulder or arm pain or discomfort.
- Shortness of breath.
If you experience any of the symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Are heart attack symptoms different for men and women?
Yes, they can be. In fact, women often ignore their symptoms because they’re not those typically associated with heart attacks. Women should pay attention to:
- A burning sensation in the upper abdomen
- An upset stomach
What steps can you take to ensure good heart health?
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and unprocessed foods is best. Limit salt or sodium intake. Also watch your intake of saturated and trans fats and cholesterol.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
- Get moving! Experts recommend moderate to intense exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week. If necessary, break those workouts into shorter periods of time. In general, include more movement in your daily routine, especially if you have a job that requires sitting for most of the day.
- Watch your blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit. And limit exposure to secondhand smoke, too.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Men should consume no more than two alcoholic drinks per day; women should drink no more than one beverage containing alcohol daily.
- Have your cholesterol checked.
- Manage diabetes. In women, other chronic conditions, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, too.
- Take medications as prescribed.
- Reduce stress levels.
- Get treated for depression.
- Be aware of your family history.
What events are being held throughout the month?
Go Red for Women is one of the organizations with a specific focus on heart health. Visit www.goredforwomen.org for events in your area. Check out the American Heart Association’s Website for valuable information on American Heart Month.