Go Red: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S.; know your risk!


National Wear Red Day, or “Go Red for Women,” is this Friday, Feb. 2, so now is a good time to talk about heart health, specifically as it applies to women. Nationally, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, and in Idaho it is the second leading cause of death for women, after cancer. In fact, cardiovascular disease in the U.S. kills approximately one woman every 80 seconds.

So what’s the deal with Wear Red Day?

The American Heart Association launched a movement called Go Red for Women to bring more awareness to the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women nationally. They designated the first Friday in February as National Wear Red Day to help raise awareness that women may have different symptoms when they have a heart attack.

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 pain or discomfort in the back, jaw, or arms. If you have any of these symptoms and think you might be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately and get to a hospital. A majority 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. The American Heart Association says that 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

So what are the steps you can take to reduce your risk?

If you smoke, quitting smoking is the No. 1 thing you can and should do to reduce your risk for heart disease. Other tips include getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, managing and 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 added sugar, processed foods, and those that are high in sodium.

I hear a lot about “knowing your risk.” How is that possible?

Early detection is very important when it comes to preventing and treating heart disease. The American Heart Association says there are five numbers, that all women should know: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI). Have a heart-to-heart talk with your health provider about these numbers and understand your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. It’s time for all women to learn the most critical numbers in their life — their hearts depend on it.

A Closer Look at Your Health airs weekly on KBOI-670 AM in Boise; this is a transcript of the Jan. 30, 2018 program. 


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