Heart Healthy Month – February

| Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | No Comments »

February is Heart Disease Month
Know your heart! Written by: Shelia Whiteman
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) the most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.
Did you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States?

It is also a leading cause of disability among women. If you’ve got a heart, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heart disease. Fortunately, heart disease is a problem you can do something about.
WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
According to Women’s Health.gov, heart disease includes a number of problems affecting the heart and the blood vessels in the heart. Types of heart disease include:
Coronary Artery Disease is the most common type of heart disease and is caused by the narrowing and blockage of the coronary arteries. Due to the narrowed artery wall or blockage, blood has a hard time getting to the heart. The heart does not get all the blood it needs causing a heart attack.
Coronary Artery Disease can lead to:
Angina is chest pain or discomfort that happens when the heart does not get enough blood. It may feel like a pressing or squeezing pain, often in the chest, but sometimes the pain is in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It can also feel like indigestion (upset stomach). Angina is not a heart attack, but having angina means you are more likely to have a heart attack.
Heart attack occurs when an artery is severely or completely blocked, and the heart does not get the blood it needs for more than 20 minutes.
Heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump enough blood through the body. This means that other organs, which normally get blood from the heart, do not get enough blood. It does not mean that the heart stops. Signs of heart failure include: shortness of breath, swelling in feet, ankles, and legs or extreme tiredness
Heart arrhythmias are changes in the beat of the heart. Most people have report that they felt dizzy, faint, out of breath or had chest pains. These changes in heartbeat are harmless for most people. As you get older, you are more likely to have arrhythmias. Don’t panic if you have a few flutters or if your heart races once in a while. If you have flutters and other symptoms such as dizziness or shortness of breathe, call 911 right away.
High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and secondhand smoke are risk factors associated with heart disease. For a full list of diseases and conditions along with risk factors and other health information associated with heart disease, visit the American Heart Association website.
The following information was obtained from The Mayo clinic website- mayoclinic.com
Heart disease risk factors for women
Although the traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease — such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity — affect women and men, other factors may play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women. For example:
• Metabolic syndrome — a combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides — has a greater impact on women than on men.
• Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s. Depression makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment, so talk to your doctor if you’re having symptoms of depression.
• Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
• Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels (small vessel heart disease).
Is heart disease something only older women should worry about?
No. Women under the age of 65 who have a family history of heart disease should pay particularly close attention to the heart disease risk factors. Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously.
What can women do to reduce their risk of heart disease?
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease:
• Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Quit or don’t start smoking.
• Eat a diet that’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.

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