Dressed to Live: Wear Red on Friday
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women,
Welcome to February – the month we have to fill with the most amount of information in the fewest amount of days! The month where you’ll suddenly see an abundance of people dressed in red! (More on the red in a minute.) We’re starting this month off with what is perhaps the most important information of the year, or lifetime: heart disease.
You know we’re crazy about breast health – and for very good reasons. But you also know we’re crazy about overall health. We may spend days blogging about breasts, breast health and breast cancer, but remember cardiovascular disease kills more women than all cancers combined – not just breast cancer – all cancers combined. Just as the 1-in-8 statistic for breast cancer in women is enough to make anyone’s ears perk up, the 1-in-3 stat for women’s heart disease deaths should make everyone stop in their tracks.
But we won’t let scary numbers for breast cancer or cardiovascular disease paralyze us. We hope to empower you to push for better health in all ways possible: Education about the risks of women’s cardiovascular disease; the differences between men and women with respect to heart disease; and what can be done proactively to help prevent cardiovascular disease is key.
The biggest proactive step – if you smoke, stop (!). Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet heavy in plants and low on animal fats, and getting regular exercise that pumps up your heart rate… all these are ways of reducing the risk of heart attacks AND breast cancer. For cardiovascular disease, knowing your numbers is key – blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. If any of these numbers do not fall in the ideal range, a combination of diet, exercise and/or medication is essential to protecting your heart and blood vessels.
But there’s more to the story when it comes to women’s heart health. Women are different than men. We don’t present with the same symptoms as the classic crushing or heavy chest pain going to the arm that is seen in men. Changes on your EKG may be different in a woman than in a man. Treatments may be different as well. Here are some of the symptoms that a woman may experience when having a heart attack:
chest pain or discomfort
pain in arms, back, neck or jaw
shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness
anxiety or a feeling of dread
The complete version of this list can be found here.
So wear red tomorrow for National Wear Red Day 2014 to help remind us that cardiovascular disease is the number one threat to health – for men and women. Awareness of symptoms – and awareness that symptoms may not be the classic ones if you are female – can save your life!
Image credit: Finale Walk at The Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection 2010 by The Heart Truth Copyright Public Domain.
Originally published 2/6/14 on mammographykc.com.