Heart disease is the number one killer in America today, with more than 1.5 million Americans suffering heart attacks and strokes and 800,000 people dying from it every year. With growing rates of obesity and diabetes, the problem isn’t going anywhere.
Last Friday, February 6th was Women wear Red Day. Women wear Red is an organization started by the American Heart Association to promote health and wellness and draw attention to the number one killer of Women in America-Heart Disease (according to the American Heart Association, one in three women will die from heart disease). Although both men and women suffer heart disease in similar numbers, there is far more awareness regarding the issue with men.
But what exactly is heart disease? And how does it affect men and women across the country?
Heart disease is a range of conditions that affect our hearts. Some of these conditions we’re born with, however the rapid growth in heart disease across the country is in many cases largely preventable. Here are some factors that contribute to heart disease:
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Poor Diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
What does this mean for the average individual, and how can we prevent heart disease in ourselves? There are a few ways you can lower your risk of developing heart disease:
- Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medication
- Eat a healthy diet
- Don’t smoke
- Drink only in moderation (no more than 9 drinks a week for women, 12-14 for men)
Even by doing every thing you can you may still be unable to prevent developing heart disease. Many conditions like high blood pressure or coronary artery disease are passed down through generations, and can be developed throughout ones life. That is why it is vital to know and understand your families medical history, to see if you are at greater risk of developing certain heart disease related conditions.
Early action is key to protecting yourself from heart attacks and strokes, so know the warning signs. Major warning signs include sudden chest or upper body pain/discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness, and cold sweats. However, Women can have different symptoms of an approaching heart attack. Up to half of Women report no chest pains at all—instead they may feel pain in their backs, necks, jaws, or stomachs, or become nauseated fatigued, or light-headed.
Heart disease’s goes beyond just victims and their families. It also costs the country an estimated $108.9 billion in economic impact every year due to the costs of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
It’s important to take some time and reflect on our personal health decisions, and make choices that will keep our family and ourselves healthy well into the future. By eating well, staying active, minimizing or eliminating certain vices (smoking, drinking, etc.), and listening to our doctor we can increase our chances of avoiding this terrible disease.