Ladies, it’s time to “go red for life”, and I mean that statement quite literally. February is heart health awareness month for women, but we shouldn't contain something this important to just 28 days of the year—ok, sometimes 29!
All too often heart disease is assumed to be a “man’s disease” but in reality, 23% of women die annually within the first year of a recognized heart attack versus only 18% of men. The number one reason why? Most women don’t receive the adequate after care and treatment. At times that can be our own fault too. As a gender we’re known to put everyone’s needs before our own, but ladies—this is one issue that cannot be left on the back burner.
The following statistics are courtesy of the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease:
- More than 3 million women have a history of heart attack
- 7.5 million women suffer from angina and are living with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
- 42.7 million women are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Your risk of heart disease can also depend on your race believe it or not. The group at the highest risk is African-American women at 78%, followed by Hispanic-American women at 75%, and Caucasian women at 59%.
Your race is not the only factor, other health issues can increase your chance of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease:
- high blood-pressure
- family history of heart disease
- physical inactivity
A bigger part of the issue of heart attacks in women going unrecognized is because heart attack symptoms differ in women! Don’t assume that the stereotypical scene of someone clutching at their chest is the only sign of a heart attack—especially in women. Courtesy of goredforwomen.org the following are symptomatic of heart attacks in women:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Approximately one-third (or 1 in 3) of American women will die from heart disease this year; that’s roughly 1 death every minute. Sounds like a small number? Well what if I told you that it equals out to 421,918 deaths every year? Deaths which could be prevented if more women maintained awareness of their heart health.
It’s your heart ladies, so take care of it, and get checked on annual basis or as often as your doctor requires. Even if heart disease runs in your family, your actions can still count towards preventing it from occurring. According to Go Red for Women, “Because of healthy choices and knowing the signs, more than 627,000 of women have been saved from heart disease, and 330 fewer are dying per day.”
This just goes to show you ladies—love your heart—and it will love you back.