February is American Heart Health Month

BY ANGELA BERENZAK

Clark County Health Department

February is American Heart Health Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health.

Many people also associate this month with Go Red For Women. Go Red for Women was created by the American Heart Association in order is to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a platform for change to improve the lives of women globally.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute.

Wear red on Friday, Feb. 5, to bring awareness to the importance of having positive cardiovascular health.

Causes of heart disease

Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Numerous problems can result from this, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Facts about heart disease in women

• Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute.

• 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

• Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen.

• The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men, and are often misunderstood.

• While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.

Facts about heart disease in men

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 347,879 men in 2017 — that’s about 1 in every 4 male deaths.

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian American or Pacific Islander men, heart disease is second only to cancer.

• About 1 in 13 (7.7%) white men and 1 in 14 (7.1%) black men have coronary heart disease. About 1 in 17 (5.9%) Hispanic men have coronary heart disease.3

• Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

Signs and symptoms of heart attack

• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It 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.

•As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Signs and symptoms of stroke

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

• Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Preventing heart disease

Although the information previously stated can seem bleak, there are ways to potentially prevent heart disease from occurring.

• Get your blood pressure under control

• Lower your cholesterol

• Know your family history

• Stay active

• Lose or manage your weight

• Eat healthy

• Don’t smoke

Information for this article was obtained from: https://www.goredforwomen.org and www.cdc.gov

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and Freedom from Smoking. For more information, call 744-4482 or go to www.clarkhealthdept.org.