February is not only Valentine’s Day month, but it has also been declared Women’s Heart Disease Awareness Month. Since the risk of breast cancer is in the media often, you may be thinking that it is the Number 1 killer for women, but that is not true.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people in North America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 631,636 people died from this condition in 2006. About half of them were women.
Whether you choose to wear red on Friday (February 5) to show your support for women and heart disease in this way, there are things you can do to lower your risk of being another statistic. I know it’s not New Year’s Day, but why don’t you make a resolution to start taking better care of your heart, starting right now?
You may not have any say about the genetic factors that affect your risk of heart disease, but you do have choices about what you eat. Start by reading labels so that you are aware of what you are consuming. Most processed foods are full of fat, salt and sugar and all of these ingredients consumed in excess are harmful to your heart. The advice about buying your groceries from the aisles located around the perimeter of the store is true. That’s where you find fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and whole grain products.
Women tend to put themselves at the bottom of the list when it comes to looking after themselves, and in this case, it is a matter of life and death. If you want to do something for yourself this Valentine’s Day, decide that you love yourself enough to look after your health and reduce your risk of becoming a number when it comes to women and heart disease.
When you are getting ready to watch for the Super Bowl, the upcoming Winter Olympics, or any other big sporting event, you probably aren’t thinking about the possibility of suffering a heart attack. In a story published by CBS News, studies have shown that the risk increases when fans are watching major sporting events.
The chances of a person having a heart attack while watching the Super Bowl or a similar event increase from 1 in 100,000 to between 2 and 3 per 100,000. Rabid sports fans beware: if your team loses the Big Game, your risk of heart attack increases on game day and for a few weeks afterward.
The combination of increased adrenalin levels and overindulgence in snack foods and alcohol can put extra strain on the heart muscle, which has the potential to trigger a heart attack. It’s not just the people who fit the profile of a person who is at risk that need to be concerned about their heart health; a heart attack can happen to anyone.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Here are the signs of heart attack that you need to be aware of. Men should be on the lookout for:
- Chest Pain or Pressure
- Feeling Lightheaded
- Pain Radiating Down Left Arm
- Shortness of Breath
For women, heart attack warning signs are a little different. According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of women who have a heart attack don’t experience any chest pain during the event. Instead, a woman should be aware that the following symptoms may indicate a heart attack:
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Shortness of Breath
Have fun watching the Super Bowl and enjoy the time spent with friends and family, but be aware of what’s happening with your body. If you experience the kinds of symptoms listed above, don’t wait until half time or the game is over – get to the Emergency Room right away.
Having a marriage that is strained can lead to health conditions that increase a woman’s risk of heart disease. The stress from relationship woes can lead to high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, and obesity. This combination of symptoms are a recipe heart disease, and a good reason to find a way to resolve problems in a marriage, though counseling if necessary.
In contrast, marital strife doesn’t affect men in the same way. The research on this subject appears to indicate that women are more sensitive to emotional strife in their relationships than men are. (Most married women would likely agree with that idea.)
Both men and women are at risk for developing heart disease, but women are more likely to die as a result. The chances of a woman dying of heart disease are approximately 10 percent higher than for men.
The symptoms of heart attack in women may not be the classic chest pain radiating down the arm that we are taught to watch out for. In women, the symptoms may be a lot more subtle. Pain the jaw or shoulders, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, or cold sweats may be signs of a heart attack.
For women under 35, taking birth control pills is relatively safe. It’s not a recommended form of birth control for smokers at any age, though. Birth control pills and heart disease are a concern for women older than 35 or who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Here are some signs you should be on the lookout for if you are taking birth control pills:
- Blurred vision/Double vision
- Severe headaches
- Difficulty breathing
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
- Pain or swelling in the leg
- Upper body or arm pain
- Abnormal (heavy) vaginal bleeding