This Friday, the first Friday in February, is National Wear Red Day® for Women’s Health. It’s also the 15th anniversary of the campaign kickoff to raise awareness for the number one killer of women…Heart Disease.
According to the American Heart Association, since 2003, tremendous strides have been made in our heart health.:
- Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
- More than one-third of women have lost weight.
- More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
- 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
- More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
- One third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
- Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
- Death in women has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.
However, 1 in 3 women still die each year of heart disease and stroke. Compare that to 1 in 31 women who die each year from breast cancer. It’s actually more deadly than all cancers combined.
There are some risks that you can’t control when it comes to heart disease (like family history, age, gender, race, or being born with an underlying heart condition), but there are many things you can do to prevent your risk for developing heart disease:
- Don’t smoke
- Manage your blood sugar
- Get your blood pressure under control
- Lower your cholesterol
- Know your family history
- Stay active
- Lose weight
- Eat healthy
Though age is a risk factor, heart disease doesn’t discriminate and affects women of all ages. Young women have a 20 percent increased risk of heart disease if they combine smoking and taking birth control pills. Though risks do increase with age, you can reduce the risk by eating healthy and not leading a sedentary lifestyle that can cause plaque to build up in your arteries.
Even if you feel completely healthy, fit and active, you still could be at risk due to hidden factors such as high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier depending on family history. Blood pressure and BMI should also be monitored and checked as part of your annual exam.
Healthy blood pressure should be around 120 over 80 in healthy adults. Hypertension is the leading cause of stroke and a major cause of heart attacks. More than 30 person of American adults have high blood pressure. Most people don’t know they have hypertension until they go to the doctor.
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator of whether you’re at a healthy or unhealthy weight. You can calculate your exact BMI using this formula: Multiply your weight in pounds by 703, then divide your height in inches, then divide again by your height in inches. Even losing 10 pounds can lower your heart disease risk.
Here are the BMI ranges so you can be mindful of where your healthy BMI range would be:
- Underweight: Less than 18.5
- Healthy weight: Less than 25
- Overweight: Between 25 and 29.9
- Obese: 30 or higher is considered obese
What’s the scariest part? 64 percent of women who die suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms. Oftentimes, the symptoms of a heart attack are misinterpreted in women. The reality for women is that we are more likely to experience these the following symptoms as opposed to extreme chest pain:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Back or jaw pain
- Lightheaded or fainting
- Pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
- Extreme fatigue.
Stop by one of our stores in Rocky Point or Hampstead and pick up a free quiz for knowing your risk factors, so you can have an informed conversation with your doctor.