Today is International Women’s Day! However, everyday is women’s health awareness day. So let’s talk about the number one killer of women in the United States and how to prevent it….heart disease.
Heart disease as I stated is the number one cause of death of women in the United States, killing 1 in 5 women. About 1 in 16 who are age 20 and older have coronary artery disease (CAD) which is the most common type of heart disease. CAD happens when coronary arteries struggle to supply the heart with enough blood, oxygen and nutrients. Cholesterol deposits, or plaques, are almost always to blame. Coronary artery disease can range from no symptoms, to chest pain, to a heart attack. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, angioplasty, and surgery. Symptoms of CAD are angina (chest pain), pain in the neck, throat and jaw as well as nausea, vomiting and fatigue. There are also some ‘silent’ symptoms of CAD as well, ranging from heart attacks, arrhythmia and heart failure.
Risk factors often are associated with high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol numbers being abnormal, smoking, being overweight or diabetic, having an unhealthy diet, living a sedentary lifestyle and consistent use of alcohol. With all of these risk factors, is there a way to lower or get rid of them? The good news is that the answer to that question is yes. Most of lowering your risk factors is to take preventative measures before things start to worsen. Here are some things that you can do to decrease your risk of CAD:
- Know your BP numbers. At the doctor, have them check your BP on a regular basis.
- Talk to your doctor about pre-screening for diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes raises the risk of heart disease. Consider having your triglycerides and cholesterol checked. Abnormal numbers in these areas may be indicators of an underlying heart condition.
- Make healthy food choices. This goes without saying but bears repeating because sometimes the most obvious solution is often overlooked.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Manage stress and try to find ways to cope with stressors. Seek therapy, have a support system and people you can count on to help you when things get rough.
Being proactive about your health and staying on top of things for some people can take a backseat because life tends to get in the way. However, the more in tune with your body and recognizing when things are wrong will fair better for you in the long run. Women need each other to be healthy because they feed off of each others positive energy. The best way to stay thriving is to schedule doctors appointments, medical tests, etc. Let’s help each other create a healthier world, one woman at a time.
- (Well-Integrated Screening for WOMen Across the Nation, http://www.cdc.gov/wisewomen/index.html)
- Organization that serves low-income, uninsured and under-insured women with heart-risk screenings.
- Million Hearts (https://millionhearts.hhs.gov)
- Facilitate impactful collaboration; resource sharing.
- Addresses health inequity through policy, processes and practices.