Seeing Red? Think Women's Heart Health
< Jan. 30, 2008 > -- February 1st is the fifth anniversary of National Wear Red Day - a day when Americans all across the country wear red to demonstrate their support for women's heart disease awareness.
On National Wear Red Day, people wear red clothing including socks and shirts, or accessorize with a trendy, red handbag, red earrings, or a flashy, red pin. This effort has brought attention to the fact that heart disease is the number one cause of death in women.
Some "Disheartening" Facts about Women and Heart Disease
It is a myth that heart disease is a man's disease. In fact, one in eight women aged 45 to 64 has heart disease. One in four women over the age of 65 has heart disease. Currently, 7.2 million women have heart disease, states the American Heart Association (AHA).
Consider the following facts about cardiovascular disease in women.
Coronary heart disease is the single largest cause of death for females in the United States. Almost 16 percent of girls ages six to 19 are overweight, which is a risk factor for heart disease. About 25 percent of girls in grades nine through 12 report using tobacco, which is also a risk factor for heart disease.
At menopause, a woman's heart disease risk starts to increase significantly. Each year, about 88,000 women ages 45 to 64 have a heart attack. Beginning at age 45, more women than men have elevated cholesterol.
Each year, about 372,000 women age 65 and older have a heart attack. About 21 million women age 60 and older have high blood pressure. The average age for women to have a first heart attack is about 70, and women are more likely than men to die within a few weeks of a heart attack.
About 35 percent of women who have had a heart attack will have another within six years. Two-thirds of women who have a heart attack do not fully recover, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
What is a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI)? A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle has a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.
The blockage is often a result of atherosclerosis - a buildup of plaque, made up of cholesterol, other fatty substances, and a blood clot. Plaque ruptures and eventually a blood clot forms. The cause of a heart attack is a blood clot that forms within the plaque-obstructed area.
If the blood and oxygen supply is cut off severely or for a long period of time, muscle cells of the heart suffer severe and devastating damage and die. The result is damage or death to the area of the heart that became affected by reduced blood supply.
How to Celebrate Wear Red Day
There are many ways to bring women's heart disease awareness to those around you. At work, you can encourage your coworkers to wear red as well.
You might organize a contest at work for the "best red accessory". Or consider hosting a brown-bag lunch, bringing in a cardiac expert to speak. Also, you could request your cafeteria to host a heart-healthy lunch.
Model heart-healthy behaviors by organizing a daily walk at your workplace. Participate in or help organize heart-health screening events in your community. You might also help organize a community walk to raise awareness of heart disease which will raise money for the organization of your choice. Wear red t-shirts as you walk.
Celebrate the day by getting a medical check-up.Or start that quitting-smoking program you have been wanting to try.
How to Live a "Red" Lifestyle
The first way to live a "red" lifestyle is to make healthy food choices. Try making the following decisions on a daily basis.
Make half the grains consumed each day whole grains. Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green- and orange-colored kinds, legumes (peas and beans), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables.
Know the limits on fats, sugars, and salt (sodium). Make the most of your fat sources from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Limit solid fats like butter, stick margarine, shortening, and lard, as well as foods that contain these.
Go lean on protein. Choose low fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine - choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
Next, make exercise an important part of your life. Even low-to-moderate intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be beneficial.
However, more vigorous aerobic activities, done three or four times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, are best for improving the fitness of the heart and lungs. Regular aerobic physical activity increases a person's capacity for exercise and plays a role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Aerobic exercise may also help to lower blood pressure.
Always consult your physician for more information.
For more information on health and wellness, please visit health information modules on this Web site.
What are the risk factors for heart attack?
There are two types of risk factors for heart attack, including the following:
Inherited or genetic risk factors are risk factors you are born with that cannot be changed, but can be improved with medical management and lifestyle changes. Acquired risk factors are caused by activities that we choose to include in our lives that can be managed through lifestyle changes and clinical care.
Who is most at risk due to inherited (genetic) factors?
Who is most at risk -due to acquired risk factors?
A heart attack can happen to anyone - it is only when we take the time to learn which of the risk factors apply to us, specifically, can we then take steps to eliminate or reduce them.
Always consult your physician for more nformation.
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