The month of February officially marks American Heart Month. While “National Wear Red Day” raised heart health awareness on February 3, it’s incredibly important for women to stay educated about familiarizing themselves with the signs of heart disease as well as ways in promoting a healthy heart.
One of the most common myths swirling around in American culture is that men are affected by heart disease more than women, and it’s cancer that really impacts women. Not true. Heart disease is the leading killer for both men and women. According to statistics, 1 in 30 women will succumb to cancer while 1 in 3 women will die from cardiovascular disease. That’s a significant difference.
Another telling number is that approximately 44 million women in the United States are afflicted with this disease, and it’s estimated that a cardiovascular disease or stroke kills a woman every 80 seconds. So what can be done about this? One word is the answer: Empowerment.
When women empower themselves with the tools of knowledge, they can stay one step ahead in their health and wellness goals.
The most common signs of a heart attack in women include the following:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest: Like men, women can also experience chest pain during a heart attack, but not all do. Cardiologists indicate how a number of female patients may also experience more of a squeezing pressure or a sensation of fullness rather than chest pain. The discomfort may also not be isolated to the left portion of the chest – it can radiate to other areas of the chest, too.
- Jaw, neck, back or arm pain: This type of pain is more prevalent in women than in men. In some patients the pain can start off acute and for others, may come on gradually.
- Shortness of breath: Without physical exertion, female patients may suddenly experience a shortness of breath which can be accompanied with or without chest pain.
- Lightheadedness or nausea: Like “shortness of breath,” a wooziness or queasiness may also unexpectedly appear without cause.
- Extreme fatigue: Cardiologists also note how another symptom may be unexplained exhaustion in where taking even a few steps is physically challenging.
It’s important to note that not every woman may experience all the above signs. She may have one or more symptoms that may even appear subtly. Being familiar with one’s own body is key. If something doesn’t feel normal, than seek medical assistance immediately.
While understanding the symptoms of a heart attack is incredibly empowering, another important tool is how to stay heart healthy. Here is a “happy heart checklist” to help get started.
- Floss teeth every single day to promote oral health and help decrease gum inflammation.
- Stay away from trans fats and eat healthy.
- Exercise 30 minutes a day such a brisk walk (be sure to get doctor clearance first).
- Sleep between seven to eight hours per night.
- Maintain a healthy BMI weight.
- Bodies were made to move so don’t sit for too long.
- Stop smoking and stay clear of secondhand smoke.
- Manage stress with a relaxation technique(s).
- Reduce alcohol intake.
In no time at all, incorporating these heart healthy habits will become like second nature. For more heart-wise advice visit the American Heart Association.