February: Go Red for Women!

February: Go Red for Women!

You may know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men. But did you know that heart disease is also the leading cause of death for women? In fact, in the US, 44 million women are affected by heart disease and women under the age of 55 who suffer a heart attack do not recover as well as men in the same age group. In other words, heart disease is as important for women to pay attention to as it is for men.

Heart disease affects all women, but it is important to note that African American and Hispanic women are at greater overall risk and more at risk of developing heart disease earlier in life.

It is estimated that 80 percent of heart disease and stroke events can be prevented with lifestyle changes.

This is why spreading awareness among women is so important and that’s exactly what the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign is all about. On February 2nd women, and men, will wear red to call attention to the importance of cardiovascular health for women and to help bust the myth that heart disease is only an issue for men.

The connection between heart disease and men’s health is well-known but cardiovascular research has begun to appreciate the risk women face and how that risk differs from men. For example, the classic heart attack symptom for a man is chest pain. While women may also experience chest pain, they are more likely to experience the other types of discomfort associated with a heart attack such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, back pain or jaw pain. Here is a list of heart attack warning signs for women:

  • Chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back.
  • Discomfort in other areas such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Nausea or lightheadedness.

Some heart disease risk factors cannot be controlled such as age, race, and family history. But women still have an enormous ability to change their personal risk of heart disease by paying attention to the risk factors they can control by making changes in their lifestyle behaviors. The following lists the risks that can be managed through lifestyle changes to lower your risk of heart disease.

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Lack of regular activity
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes

If you need to make improvements in these areas be sure to see your doctor.

Remember to put on your red apparel on February 2nd and help spread the word. Heart disease isn’t just a concern for men.