The death of a local woman in my town–who was relatively young at 53 years old–prompted me to revisit the topic of women’s heart health. This woman’s death (apparently of a heart attack) begs me to remind you that heart disease is not something that strikes older Caucasian men. We all should take this matter seriously.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, yet African-American women are disproportionately affected, leading the death rate regardless of age. Importantly, African American women are less likely than Caucasian women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death.
The staggering statistics for African American women and heart disease:
- Cardiovascular disease kills nearly 500,000 African-American women annually.
- Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 per cent have heart disease
- Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk
- Only 52 per cent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
- Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.
Heart Attack Warning Signs:
- Chest Discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fulness or pain.
- Discomfort In Other Areas of the Upper Body – symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of Breath – with or without chest discomfort
- Other Signs – may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
Get to a hospital if warning signs persist.
Once again, let’s get to the heart of the matter.
What Go Red means?
1. Follow an exercise routine
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
3. Visit your doctor for important tests
4. Influences others by talking about heart health
This time of the year, as spring is surely blooming around us with warmer temperatures, there is no excuse to not get out and walk, work in your garden, or ride your bike. Those are some ways that I utilize to get my 150 minutes of weekly exercise. Why 150 minutes?
Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke. To improve overall health, The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart walk is to start walking. It’s free, easy, social and great exercise. What’s holding you back? Get moving!
10,000 Steps a Day, a pedometer walking program, again, another easy way to get your daily exercise with just the cost of a pedometer which are usually fairly inexpensive.
- Control your portion size
- Eat more vegetables and fruit
- Select whole grains
- Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol
- Choose low-fat protein sources
- Reduce sodium in your food
- Plan ahead: Create daily menus
- Allow yourself an occasional treat
Under the new health care reform law most health plans now cover the tests listed below (check you plan to see if yearly test allowed):
- Blood pressure test/check-up
- Cervical cancer test
- Cholesterol test
- Diabetes test
- Colon Cancer Test/Colonoscopy
- Osteoporosis Test
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Test
Some tests, such as prostate cancer or T angiography for heart disease, aren’t included in the above list because research shows they’re not very helpful for most healthy people.
It’s amazing how we can influence each other with a great pair of shoes, an outfit, travel plans entertaining or decorating. The same influence you have to inspire your female friends and family members is the same in the health arena, speak up, don’t let your female friends die premature deaths because you don’t want to offend them being overweight, lack of exercise or poor eating habits. I hope we got to the heart of the matter of premature deaths in heart disease for all women especially African-American women.