Bless Your Heart

Valentine’s and February exude the feelings of love and emotion.  But I hope this time of year also makes us think of heart health.  This year I missed National Wear Red Day which is when we should all don our red outfits, lipstick, shoes or scarves in support of women’s heart health awareness.  The first Friday in February (what a tongue twister) is the annual day that the American Heart Association uses to promote awareness of THE NUMBER ONE KILLER OF WOMEN…HEART DISEASE.

One in five women will die of heart disease.

Let that sink in.

The worst part for women is that signs of a heart attack vary greatly.  For men, the signs are more recognizable.  Chest pain, tightness in the chest, pain shooting down the left arm would make any of us think we might be having a heart attack. For women it may also include nausea, vomiting, jaw pain, neck pain, back pain, cough, dizziness, and/or shortness of breath.

The other bad thing is that for some reason, society doesn’t associate heart problems with women.  Even the type of heart attack that kills over 800,000 men and women annually in the US is nicknamed the Widowmaker (not the Widowermaker) which implies only men will be affected.  This type of heart attack is when there is a 100% blockage in the Left Anterior Descending Artery, which is the artery that supplies fresh blood, thus oxygen, to the heart.

This is the type of heart attack that my mother suffered, and which took her life.  Though she was active, slim, and fit, she had a blockage.  She didn’t smoke or drink.  She got plenty of sleep and did not have diabetes or high blood pressure.

According to the latest data available through the CDC (2017) which shows the leading causes of death of women in the US:

  1. 21.8% will die of heart disease.
  2. 20.7% will die from cancer (all types combined, lung being the top cause of death in women).
  3. Tied at 6.2% each are stroke and chronic lower respiratory diseases (an example of which is COPD).

How do we prevent heart disease?  Per the CDC’s website, the best ways to prevent heart disease are:

  • Choose healthy food and drink
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular physical exercise
  • Don’t smoke

If applicable, also do the following:

  • Check your cholesterol
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Manage your diabetes
  • Take medicines as directed

Hopefully, this information has caught your attention and you will make some changes in your life so that you can be more heart healthy.  Also keep in mind the signs of a heart attack so that you can get help as soon as possible.

I sincerely hope that you take this information and your heart health seriously.  Please, take it to heart.

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