Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Month-long awareness campaign focuses on threat of heart disease in women
To coincide with February’s American Heart Month, I encourage all residents and women in particular, to get their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked. The truth about heart disease is that one in four American women dies of the deadly disease and many fail to make the connection between their risk factors – such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol – and their own chance of developing it. The chance of developing heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors that put people at greater risk. Recognizing risks, making healthy lifestyle choices and getting timely care can literally save a woman’s life.
According to the American Heart Association, some heart attacks are sudden and intense– like those seen in movies. But others start slowly, with only mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Signs that a heart attack is happening may include:
- - Chest discomfort
- Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
- Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs include sweating, gas-like pain, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
- - Chest discomfort
It has been noted that half of heart attack victims wait more than two hours before seeking help. Experts say that when a heart attack occurs, there is a limited amount of time before serious damage begins. Anyone who thinks they are having a heart attack should seek medical attention immediately. Also, African-American and Hispanic women in particular have high rates of the major risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. For more information about heart health, and for tips on adopting healthy lifestyle habits, visit the American Heart Association website at www.americanheart.org.
Many women think that cancer is more of a threat than heart disease, but they’re wrong. Studies show that nearly twice as many women in the US die of cardiovascular diseases as from all forms of cancer combined. It’s never too late to control the risk factors for this often silent killer.