- - Monday, February 2, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women — more than breast cancer, stroke or car accidents combined. That is a staggering statistic. And it is the reason why during February’s American Heart Month, many of us will “Go Red For Women” so we can raise awareness, encourage action, and save lives that are lost too early.

The color red was symbolically chosen because it is the color of blood and represents vitality, strength and power. As a result, it is a powerful representation of healthy hearts. Let’s take some time and roll out the “red carpet” to ways we can keep the hearts of ours, and the women we love, healthy.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About Heart Health in Women — and how to put up the “red light” to stop premature deaths in ourselves, our mothers, our wives, our sisters, our daughters and our girlfriends

What symptoms are seen in women?
Chest pain, pressure and discomfort are the most common symptoms of a heart attack in both men and women. However, in women, they may not always be as severe and may not raise “red flags.” Additionally, women are more likely to have “atypical” symptoms that may be completely unrelated to chest pain. They include:
• Pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdomen
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea or vomiting
• Sweating
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Unusual fatigue
Many women seek treatment after significant heart damage has occurred. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately. It may save a life. Do not let them become a “red herring.”

What are the risk factors for heart disease in women?
Although men are from Mars and women are from Venus, they share the “traditional” risk factors for heart disease. These include hypertension, elevated cholesterol and obesity. However, there are a number of other factors that are more harmful to women than men:
• Smoking
• Stress and depression: Both contribute to unhealthy lifestyles (inactivity, poor food choices, lack of sleep)
• Metabolic syndrome: a disorder of energy utilization and storage, diagnosed as having 3 out of 5 of the following medical conditions: abdominal (central) obesity, hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and elevated trigylcerides.

Does estrogen provide a “get out of jail card” until menopause?
Women under the age of 65 who have a family history of heart disease should pay particularly close attention to risk factors for heart disease. And although estrogen is believed to be protective against heart disease, it is not bulletproof. Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously.

What can women do to reduce their risk of heart disease?
• Stay active and exercise 30-60 minutes a day on most days of the week.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke!
• Eat healthy. Decrease your intake of saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and salt.
• If you have hypertension, monitor it carefully and take your prescribed medications
• Omega-3 fatty acids. There is evidence that women with an elevated risk for heart disease can decrease it by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids or taking supplements. Talk with your doctor if this could benefit you.

Feb. 6th is National Wear Red Day. Let’s “Go Red For Women” and join together in awareness of heart disease, hope for the future, solidarity with women who have heart disease, and the charitable goodness of those who publicly support the movement. February will be showered in hearts … and red … Go Red!!

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