Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: September 12, 2015
Fact or fiction: Heart disease kills more women each year than all forms of cancer combined. With stark statistics to back it up, it’s a fact. According to GoRedForWomen.org, while 1-in-31 American women die from breast cancer each year, heart disease claims 1-in-3. These statistics fuel the need for continued education on lowering the risks for women and heart disease. Initiatives meant to continue to raise awareness include February American Heart Month and, for women in particular, National Wear Red Day (the first Friday in February). In 2015, it’s February 6th.
What is Heart Disease?
The term “heart disease” covers a lot of ground―namely diseases of blood vessels, heart rhythm problems, heart infections and heart defects. Generally, when most individuals talk about heart disease, it’s Coronary Artery Heart Disease (CAD) that is a primary concern. CAD is the most common form of heart disease, and the number one killer for both men and women. It is the narrowing of blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries to the heart which causes them to narrow and either slow or stop the flow of blood through an artery.
Heart Disease and Women
More women than men are dying each year from heart disease, and the gender gap between the rates of survival continues to widen.
Why? A contributing factor is that symptoms of heart disease can be different between women and men. And while chest pain or discomfort remains the most identifiable symptom, others are more subtle and easy to dismiss until emergency action needs to be taken. The Mayo Clinic suggests that women are more likely than men to have heart attack systems unrelated to chest pain, for instance: neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness or dizziness, and unusual fatigue.
In addition, take age out of the equation. Heart disease affects women of all ages. GoRedForWomen.org dispels that myth: For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease by 20 percent. And, activities like overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle can cause plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life.
Knowledge is power. But being aware of the problem is only part of the solution. The risk factors that may contribute to heart disease include: having high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity, heredity and tobacco use.
Making lifestyle changes now will serve you and your heart well in the future. Your five-step action plan in promoting a healthy heart should include (for both women and men):
National Wear Red Day may come only once per year, but that shouldn’t prevent you from practicing these healthy heart habits year round. To learn more about women and heart disease prevention, please contact us.
Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician.