GO RED FOR WOMEN: STEPS TO LIVING A HEART-HEALTHY LIFE
Posted: 2/5/2022 9:00 AM by
February is recognized nationally as American Heart Month. And each year, the first Friday in February is observed as National Wear Red Day®, a day people coast-to-coast unite to raise awareness about the dangers of cardiovascular disease in women.
But Wear Red Day is not just about wearing red clothing. And it’s more than just sharing heart health facts on social media, too. Put simply, Go Red for Women is about women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds uniting for a common purpose. It’s about committing to doing what it takes to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s about taking the necessary steps to improve your overall health. Ultimately National Wear Red Day is about encouraging the special women in your life to take charge of their own heart health, so they can live a long and healthy life, as well.
Heart Disease: The Silent Killer of Women
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite increases in awareness over the past decades, only about half (56%) of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
- About 1 in every 5 female deaths is associated with heart disease.
- About 1 in 16 women age 20 and older (6.2%) have coronary heart disease.
Though some women will experience symptoms of heart disease, it’s very common for others not to experience any symptoms at all. It’s often referred to as the “silent killer in women” because many women won’t realize they have a serious heart problem before it’s too late.
Common Signs of Heart Attack in Women
The symptoms women experience when having a heart attack can be very different than what a man may experience. Women will often have more subtle symptoms which can be mistaken for minor illness or discomfort. However, knowing the signs and symptoms, and calling 9-1-1 as soon as you experience them, are key to surviving a heart attack. In fact, some experts say that every 30 minutes you wait to seek medical attention can take a year off your life.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, (VA) the following symptoms are commonly associated with a heart attack in women:
- Pain in the jaw, arm, shoulder, and/or back
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
- Cold sweat
- Pressure, squeezing, or pain in the chest
Stroke Warning Signs in Women: Get Help F.A.S.T.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends using the acronym F.A.S.T. to recognize and respond to the sudden warning signs of a stroke.
- Face Drooping: Ask the person to smile. If one side of the face droops or is numb, it could be a symptom of a stroke.
- Speech Difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. If their speech sounds slurred, they are unable to speak, or they’re hard to understand, it could be a sign of a stroke.
- Arm Weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downward, it could be a sign they are having or already experienced a stroke.
- Time: If the person shows any symptoms in the acronym, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Be Heart Smart. Prevention is Key.
Taking a few simple steps to improve your overall health can be a great source of prevention when it comes to heart disease.
- Know your heart health numbers. It’s important to check your blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI) regularly. Talk with your doctor about your numbers to make sure they stay in a healthy range.
- Quit smoking. If you’re a smoker, talk with your doctor about ways you can quit. If you’re not a current smoker, don’t start.
- Make healthy food choices and stay within a healthy weight range. Obesity raises your risk for heart disease. You can decrease your risk by eating a heart-healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight and BMI.
- Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day.
- Manage stress in healthy ways. Learn how to cope with stress so it doesn’t impact your overall health. If you are under alarming amounts of stress and it’s impacting your daily life, talk with your doctor about options that are available to help you cope in a safe and healthy way.