As we continue our closer look at healthy heart behavior during American Heart Month, this week we want to focus our attention on women. The stereotype of the typical heart attack victim is an overweight, sedentary male. But Center For Disease Control data reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-American and white women in the United States, and essentially first or second, along with cancer, for other ethnic groups.
Heart disease is the primary cause of death for 1-woman-in-4. Although the average age for women with heart attacks is around 70, the percentage of fatalities is much greater for younger women, particularly those under the age of 50.
It’s important to understand the leading causes of heart disease in women. Avoid them, or minimize them as much as possible. They include being obese or overweight, and having high levels of cholesterol, blood pressure or stress. Behavioral decisions can also be contributing factors — poor diet habits, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Women with diabetic conditions are also more likely to have heart disease.
This article in Everyday Health offers valuable tips for reducing your risk for heart disease.
Know your numbers. Work with your family physician or cardiologist to know where you stand, relative to normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and appropriate weight.
Set your goals. Your health care provider can help you set appropriate goals to maintain a heart healthy condition. Your age, activity level and family health history will all play factors in devising the plan and goals that can work well for you.
Know the symptoms. We touched on them last week, but they bear repeating … out-of-character fatigue and shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and profuse sweating, an unusual sense of anxiety, and sharp pains are all possible indicators of an impending heart attack. In the case of pains, chest pains can be commonplace for both women and men, but women are also more prone to experiencing discomfort in their arm, upper back, neck, shoulder and jaw. At the first hint of any heart attack symptom, always call 9-1-1 immediately. It could be a life-saving decision.