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Heart Disease And Women

It May Be a Man’s World, But It’s Not a Man’s Problem.

We’re taking about heart disease. It’s now the number one killer of women in the U.S. Over one-third of the deaths of women over 20 are caused by cardiovascular disease.

The latest estimates show that 42 million women in the U.S. are living with cardiovascular disease.  But each year, more women than men will die of it.

Surprised? Thought heart disease was something only old men have to worry about?  You’re probably not the only one.

And that’s a big part of why women are at such risk–they never saw it coming.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign wants to change that.  Created in 2004, this active movement is all about shifting mindsets, raising awareness and empowering women to take charge of their heart health care.

This movement and other organizations including WomenHeart, partners in The Heart Truth and its Red Dress Campaign, are full of powerful stories about women being blindsided by heart attacks or other traumatic effects of cardiovascular disease.

Together, they’ve made the red dress more than a fashion statement. Their united efforts speak loud and clear: It’s essential that women get the information and treatment they need.

Looking at Your Numbers

The first step in reducing your risk for heart disease is knowing those risks.  Research shows that only 1 in 7 women are aware that cardio vascular disease should be a real concern.

There are many factors including lifestyle and heredity that weigh into determining your individual risk for heart disease, and research shows that 80% of women age 40-60 have one or more risk factors.

A good place to find out where you stand is to look at some important clinical numbers:

– Your Total Cholesterol                         should be under 200 mg/dL

– Your LDL (“Bad” Cholesterol)             should be under 100 mg/dL

– Your HDL (“Good” Cholesterol)         should be at least 50 mg/dL

– Your Triglycerides                                  should be under 150 mg/dL

– Your Blood Pressure                             should be under 120/80 mmHg

– Your Fasting Glucose                            should be under 100 mg/dL

– Your Body Mass Index (BMI)              should be under 25

– Your Waist Circumference                  should be under 35 inches

An easy way to find out most of these numbers is through a test such as Personalabs low-cost Healthy Heart Profile

And here’s one more number that women should be aware of: 55.  Because of menopause, that’s the age that puts you at an increased risk for heart disease.

Focusing on Prevention

The bottom line?  Whether in men or women, heart disease is preventable.  Eighty percent of cardiac events in women can be prevented by healthier living in terms of diet, exercise and not smoking.

Again, your first step is getting the information about your individual risks and the behaviors and conditions that increase that risk.  You can then learn what questions to ask your healthcare provider, and get the support you need to move in a positive, heart-smart direction.

Throwing a Spotlight on Disparity

Two-thirds of women who have a heart attack never fully recover. Heart disease is also a top reason many American women become disabled.  And more than 200,000 women die each year from heart attacks–that’s five times the number of women who die of breast cancer.

But the reasons why women are hit so hard by this disease are complicated by this hard fact: there are real differences in the way women and men are treated where heart disease is concerned.

Because signs for women can be different than men, heart disease in women is often mistaken for a panic attack, stress or indigestion.

Recent studies have confirmed that emergency medical professionals often overlook symptoms of distress and delay appropriate treatment.  Women themselves are much more likely than men to delay getting medical care after a heart attack.  In addition, studies show that women with heart disease don’t receive the same quality of hospital care as men do.

And only 27% the participants in heart-related medical research studies are women.

Spreading the Word

Weather it’s taking action to ensure that women get effective diagnosis of and treatment for heart disease, or making sure your friends, family and neighbors are aware of their risks by taking a simple test, join other women who spreading the word.

Got a red dress in your closet? Maybe its time to send a message by wearing it.

And visit these websites for more information and resources:

www.GoRedForWomen.org
www.WomenHeart.org
www.pcna.net/women
www.womenshealth.gov
www.nhlbi.nih.gov

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