A Closer Look airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is a transcript of the segment from Feb. 16.
February is the month of the heart, in more ways than you might think. We all know about Valentine’s Day, but did you know that it’s also American Heart Month? Nationally, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. In Idaho, it is the second leading cause of death for men and women, after cancer. It’s a close second, though, and the statistics are alarming: 1 in 31 women dies from breast cancer each year, but heart disease kills 1 in 3.
How are the symptoms different for women?
Just like men, the most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely to have other symptoms, including shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain. If you have any of these symptoms and think you might be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately and get to a hospital. 64 percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
If heart disease runs in your family, is there anything you can do about it?
Anyone with a family history has a higher risk, but there are several things you can do to counteract it. Control what you can when it comes to your health – it does make a difference. Exercise when you can, and choose healthy foods whenever possible. The American Heart Association says that because of healthy choices and knowing the signs of heart disease, more than 627,000 women have been saved.
So what are the steps you can take to reduce your risk?
If you smoke, quitting smoking is the No. 1 thing you can do to reduce your risk for heart disease. Other tips include getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and eating a healthy diet. Watch your portion sizes and incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish and nuts into your diet. You should try to avoid red meat, foods that are high in sodium and added sugar, and processed foods.
Is it possible to “know your risk?”
The best way to understand your risk is through regular medical checkups, where you’ll get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked and you can develop a heart health plan with your doctor. Early detection is very important when it comes to preventing and treating heart disease. When you know your risk, you can start making healthy changes to your lifestyle to reduce it.