February is American Heart Month, and its key message is to take matters into your own hands to help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Heart Month is kicked off every year by the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day (this year, it’s Fri., February 3). WESTMED participates every year to encourage women to reduce their personal risk of heart disease, which is America’s #1 killer.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
“The good news is that heart disease is largely preventable,” said WESTMED cardiologist Dr. Amanda Ganem. “There are risk factors for heart disease that you can control”, such as the following:
If you smoke, resolve to quit. Smoking cigarettes puts you at much greater risk for having a heart attack.
Know your numbers to know your risk.
--High Cholesterol: A simple blood test can show if your blood cholesterol is desirable, borderline-high or high.
--High Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked each time you visit your doctor. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms. After age 55, a much higher percentage of women than men have high blood pressure.
Get up and get moving. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of physicial activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. Regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of heart attack, heart disease or stroke. Ask your doctor what would exercise would be best for you.
Eat a heart-healthy diet. To get started on healthy cooking, heart-smart shopping, health dining out and recipes, go to the American Heart Association’s Healthy Eating Center at
Signs of Heart Attacks in Women
The fact is: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute!
Be aware of the following signs of a heart attack:
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, and no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
. As with men, this is women’s most common heart attack symptom. 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
. Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience symptoms such as pain or discomfort in one or both arms, neck, jaw or stomach
Shortness of breath
with or without chest discomfort
may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea/vomiting or lightheadedness
If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t wait longer than a few minutes (no more than five) before calling for help.
Call 9-1-1. Get to a hospital right away.