Did you know that heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in women, and cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death for African-American women? But get this: 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through lifestyle and education.
More than 275 women’s lives have been saved each day since the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® movement began in 2004 (that’s more than 600,000 women!). This February, in honor of Heart Month and National Wear Red Day® (Friday, Feb. 6), take steps toward positive change.
A great way to start down the road to a healthier tomorrow is by knowing your numbers, and educating yourself on the signs of a heart attack and stroke.
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in the blood and the body’s cells. High cholesterol may lead to atherosclerosis, or fatty deposits in the inner lining of arteries, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Tips: Control your cholesterol by eating foods that are low in trans fats and saturated fats, and high in fiber; staying current on your health check-ups; and exercising – physical activity increases your body’s ability to make good cholesterol.
Ideal number for adults: Less than 180 mg/dL
Learn more at www.Heart.org/Cholesterol
Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (or hypertension) makes the heart work harder than normal. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce strain on your heart, arteries and kidneys.
Tips: Manage your blood pressure by eating a heart-healthy diet, low in sodium; exercising; maintaining a healthy weight; managing stress; limiting alcohol; and avoiding tobacco smoke.
Ideal number for adults: Less than 120/80 mm/Hg
Learn more at www.Heart.org/HighBloodPressure
High blood sugar could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke by two to four times. If you have diabetes, you need to see your doctor regularly and reduce or eliminate any other risk factors.
Tips: Manage your blood sugar by reducing consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts.
Ideal number for adults: Fasting blood sugar of less than or equal to 100mg/dl
Learn more at www.Heart.org/Diabetes
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
Signs of a Heart Attack
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.