Friday, January 18, 2013

Women's Heart Health Awareness Day

February  1st,  the first Friday in February, is Women’s Heart Health Awareness Day. People are asked to wear something red on that day as a visual reminder to think about heart health, especially for women. There is a mistaken idea that heart disease is a men’s disease.  It is true that men may have more heart attacks than women but women’s heart attacks are more likely to be fatal and, in the end, about equal numbers of men and women die each year of heart disease. 

This may be because heart disease is thought to be a man’s disease and is not the first thought when a woman presents with symptoms. A woman’s symptoms may be different from a man’s as well. The pain may resemble the pain of indigestion more than heart pain. It is a good idea to learn the symptoms, especially if you are in a risk category.

Heart disease in women is on the increase as our lives change. More women are struggling to manage the stressful world of work, while continuing to have the major role in managing the home and children, and now, in many cases, caring for the elderly of the family. In addition to the added stress, these activities take so much time that diet and exercise are often left behind. Today’s fast world does not support heart health so we need to make conscious choices to foster it.

In addition, estrogen may provide some protection and heart disease is more common in post menopausal women. It is not unheard of in younger women but heart attacks do occur in older people more often than in younger ones. However, heart disease does not develop in a day. Heart disease is the result of a lifetime of bad habits. 

So you may say, “I’m only 24, I don’t have to think about that.” And you would be wrong.  In your 20’s and 30’s is the time that you should look at heart healthy habits and begin to build them so you don’t have to think as much about heart disease when you are older , because you will be less likely to have it. Developing heart healthy habits when you are young will have the added benefit of being habits for your children. 

I will refer you to your family doctor or the your local heart association to find out what habits you should lose and what habits you should adopt but take this very seriously. I do because I lost my husband suddenly and unexpectedly to heart disease when he was only 56 years old. It is an experience that I would rather none of you would need to go through.

1 comment:

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