Tag Archives: heart disease awareness month

Go Red For Women

Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer. In fact, it kills more women than every form of cancer combined—one in four American women can expect to die of heart disease, making it the number one cause of death for women in the United States. Not only do more women die of heart disease than die of cancer, more women die of heart disease than men do, in part because people, doctors and patients alike, don’t realize that women don’t show heart disease the way men do. An estimated 42 million women have undiagnosed heart disease, and one reason it is undiagnosed is that health care professionals are looking for male symptoms women don’t have.

On top of that, the symptoms of heart disease in women are more subtle than in men, making them harder to spot as well as harder to recognize. When a woman has heart disease, it affects the main arteries, but is more likely to be in the smaller blood vessels in the chest as well than when a man does. She may experience neck or shoulder ache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, throat pain, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness and fatigue, or sweating.

The the symptoms are different, the risk factors for heart disease are largely the same in men and women, though not always to the same degree. Diabetes and stress, for example, are more strongly linked to heart disease in women. Smoking is one of the biggest controllable risk factors for heart disease in anyone, because it narrows the blood vessels, but this is particularly the case with the smaller ones that are more affected in women. The danger of smoking is also exacerbated by hormonal birth control; the hormones make the effects of smoking worse. On top of that, hormonal birth control is itself a risk factor, as are the hormonal changes wrought by menopause, both concerns unique to women.

To raise awareness of the special concerns women have for heart health, today is the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Day. Today is the day to start to take steps to lower your risk of heart disease death. That means quitting smoking. It means making the effort to get enough exercise, about 30 to 60 minutes most days. It means a heart-healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats. It means maintaining a healthy weight. It means talking to your doctor about an aspirin regimen that can help prevent arterial plaque from building up. It’s never too early, and you’re never too young, to start protecting your heart.

Heart Health

The heart is the body’s motor, and when it stalls out, it can cause problems. The heart doesn’t deteriorate as its person gets older, but when heart disease strikes, it can interfere with the functioning. Heart disease is deadly, and it gets more likely with age. However, just because it is more likely doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. It is estimated that 80 percent of cardiac-related deaths could have been prevented. That would mean saving close to 650,000 people. It’s easy to keep the heart healthy with a few simple lifestyle changes.

Avoiding stress is one of the most important things a person can do to prevent heart disease, and it has a fairly large return on investment, yielding a lot of improvement for simple actions. Destressing can mean slowing down, getting enough sleep, organizing one’s life—through straightening up the home, the office, and the e-mail inbox as well as staying on top of scheduling by making to-do lists and maintaining a calendar. Taking a relaxed attitude and keeping life in perspective also helps. And some destress techniques are also good for the heart in and of themselves, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and staying active.

In fact, even simply walking can help the heart—as little as parking at the far end of the lot, or getting off the bus of subway one stop earlier than usual, will make a difference. Just 30 minutes of walking a day provides benefits. More intense workouts are even better for people who can do them. Twenty-five minutes of intense aerobic exercise a day, three days a week is a great way to build a healthy heart.

A heart-healthy diet is also important, but it doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Good menu options for heart health include oatmeal which can be dressed with fruit such as bananas; avocados, including in guacamole; soy; olive oil; and berries. These foods help lower cholesterol, cut fat, and provide protein. Potatoes, tomatoes, red wine, and green tea are all good for the heart, containing substances that actually fight heart disease , such as lycopene in tomatoes and flavonols in red wine. Flavonols are also found in dark chocolate, another indulgence that helps the heart.

Tips For A Healthy Heart

Heart disease is deadly, but heart health can be easy. An estimated 80 percent of cardiac deaths are preventable—nearly 650,000 people. A few simple lifestyle changes can set you on the road to a strong cardiovascular system. Here are some tips to keep your ticker in top form:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and is low in saturated and trans fats.
  • As best you can, get vitamins and minerals from foods rather than supplements.
  • Avoid fad diets. Though maintaining a healthy weight is good for your heart, most complicated or gimmicky weight loss programs fall down on the "maintaining" part. A cycle of losing weight and gaining it back is worse for your heart that simply being overweight.
  • Walking the dog is a great chance to get some walking in yourself.
  • Chose the stairs rather than the elevator if you’re only going a floor or two—or three if you’re up for it.
  • If you use mass transit, try to get off a stop or two early. If you drive, look for a parking space in the far side of the lot, or park a block or two away if you’re parking on the street
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Destress as best you can. Try yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or other stress-relieving techniques.
  • Get enough sleep, six to eight hours every night.

Particularly if you’re overweight, you’re over 60, you have a family history of heart disease, or you have some other risk factor, talk to your doctor about including heart disease screening in your regular check-up. That means a look at your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. This will help you and your doctor assess your risk and determine a specific strategy you can follow to lengthen your life.

Go Red For Women

One in four American women will die of heart disease—more than every form of cancer combined. It is the number one cause of death for women in this country, and actually kills more women than men. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that heart disease looks different in women and men, and so they miss the signs because they don’t know what to look for. It is estimated, in fact, that 42 million women have undiagnosed heart disease. Women who get heart attacks don’t have the obvious signs men do.

The symptoms of heart attack in women are more subtle. Women experience neck or shoulder ache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, throat pain, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness and fatigue, and sweating. One reason for the difference is that when women have coronary blockage, it isn’t only the main arteries that are blocked, the smaller blood vessels in the chest are also affected.

The risk factors for heart disease are mostly the same in women as in men—though menopause and hormonal birth control are risk factors as well. In addition, the degree to which these things affect women and men can be different. Diabetes, for example, is more strongly linked to heart disease in women. The biggest controllable risk factor for heart disease in women is smoking. Smoking narrows the blood vessels, making them more prone to blockage, particularly the smaller ones that are more affected in women. The danger of smoking is also exacerbated by hormonal birth control; the hormones make the effects of smoking worse. Similarly, while stress makes everyone more prone to heart ailments, this is particularly the case for women.

To raise awareness of the special concerns women have for heart health, today is the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Day. Today is the day to start to take steps to lower your risk of heart disease death. That means quitting smoking. It means making the effort to get enough exercise, about 30 to 60 minutes most days. It means a heart-healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats. It means maintaining a healthy weight. It means talking to your doctor about an aspirin regimen that can help prevent arterial plaque from building up. It’s never too early, and you’re never too young, to start protecting your heart.

Some Healthy Heart Tips

Heart disease is responsible for one quarter of all deaths in the United States. The tragedy is compounded because heart disease is in many cases preventable.

Anyone can get heart disease—women as often as men, we now know—but people with a family history are more susceptible and should take particular caution. But anyone can benefit from these tips:

  • Exercise regularly—two and a half hours a week—and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Keep your meat consumption, if any, to a reasonable level.
  • Don’t smoke. Quitting smoking can significantly lower your risk of heart disease. You can go here for help quitting.
  • Keep an eye on your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80. If yours isn’t close to that, work to lower it.
  • Get yourself tested for diabetes. If you know you’re diabetic, keeping that under control is important.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, and keep track of your cholesterol to help manage it.

These are general tips, but it’s important to consult with your doctor to figure out what, specifically, you can do to lower your risk and what areas you need to focus on.

The Danger Of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of American men. However, it’s also an often overlooked danger to women, which is why the American Heart Association is urging Americans to wear red today, to raise awareness of the threat heart disease poses to everyone.

In fact, a new study suggests most people, not just women, underestimate their risk of heart disease or stroke. Young and middle-aged people in good health can be lulled into a false sence of security by projections that reassure people with an elevated lifetime risk because the projections only look ahead ten years.

Risk factors such as high cholesterol and hypertension can show up long befire there’s any immediate danger, but taking action sooner rather than later may be more effective.

A family history of heart disease is reason enough to consider a heart-healthy lifestyle even if you’re young and show no danger signs. It’s the biggest risk factor that can’t be changed, so you have to take special care to avoid the others. Similarly, if you smoke, your best bet is to quit, but failing that, it’s all the more important to moderate your alcohol intake and watch your diet.

Some risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or physically inactive
  • Being a smoker

Smoking, metabolic syndrome (a combination of abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol) and stress and depression increase a woman’s risk of heart disease more than a man’s. Moreover, when a woman’s estrogen levels drop, it increases her risk, as does a history of recurrent miscarriage.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

February isn’t just about flowers and candy hearts, it also celebrates the heart itself. It’s Heart Disease Awareness month, and in acknowledgment of it, here’s some tips to keep your heart beating at its healthiest.

1. Cut back on fats. The human body requires fat, but do you really know the difference between good fats and bad fats? Good fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, and can be found in such foods as avocados, almonds and salmon. Consider taking fish oil capsules if your diet is low in these (though make sure to consult your doctor first if you’re taking prescription medication). Bad fats are saturated and can be found in most meats, eggs and dairy products. Limit the amount of saturated fat in your daily diet and try to avoid foods containing trans fat, such as fast food and margarine, altogether.

2. Keep salt to a minimum. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, putting a strain on your heart. Check labels on pre-packaged food for sodium content, be mindful of how much salt you use in your cooking, and leave it off the table at dinnertime.

3. Watch your weight. Obesity is one of the most common causes of heart disease, as well as diabetes and stroke. Maintain a balanced diet high in fiber, fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Replace foods containing processed flours with those containing whole wheat and other complex grains.

4. Stop smoking. We shouldn’t have to tell you this, but quitting smoking right now will almost immediately reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as cancer and emphysema. Talk to your doctor about using a nicotine patch, or find a buddy who’s also trying to quit and can help get you through those tough cravings.

5. Get more exercise! Just a half hour of moderate exercise, which can include anything from a brisk walk around your neighborhood to cleaning your house, each day can lower your risk of heart disease.

6. Try to relax. This may be the hardest piece of advice to take. Our daily lives are full of stress, over our jobs, school, families, finances, or even what we read in the news. Stress takes a toll not only on mental health, but on the heart as well. Try to keep stress to a minimum. Maintain a hobby that makes you happy, spend time with your family, or try true relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or even just a warm bath. Also be sure to get enough rest: not just a good night’s sleep but some time to yourself to relax and recharge.

Following even just a couple of these tips as an overall lifestyle change can be beneficial to your health. Be good to your heart, and it’ll be good to you!