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Friday, February 23, 2007

Are You Seeing Red?

Pictured: Stephanie M. Breedlove

You should! It’s not about the valentines either. February is the month to increase awareness about women and heart disease. Why is this important? It’s simple. Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of women. Around 480,000 women die from heart disease-related deaths annually. Annually, about 88,000 women between the ages of 45 and 64 have a heart attack. That number increases to approximately 372,000 after the age of 65. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to increase awareness about women and their risks for heart disease as well as ways to minimize their risks.

So how do women reduce their risk? There are a variety of ways women can reduce their risks for development of heart disease. One is to know your numbers. That means that knowing your lipoprotein numbers, fasting glucose, body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure. Additionally, a new measure has been added to improve calculating a woman’s risk for heart disease. This new tool is called the Reynolds Risk Score. In addition to the aforementioned numbers, it also takes into account serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein, smoking and family history. C-reactive protein is a measurement of arterial inflammation.

Additional ways to reduce your risk are basic lifestyle choices that will reduce a woman’s risk for developing heart disease. These include being physically active a minimum of thirty minutes a day. If you are overweight, strive to reduce you weight sensibly. Be sure to include healthy foods into your daily diet such as reduced saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber rich grain products, low fat dairy products, and lean protein. Not only will this reduce your risk for heart disease, but it will reduce your risk for diabetes as well. If you smoke, quit. There are a variety of resources available to help you. If you don’t smoke, avoid situations where you may be exposed to second hand smoke.

How do you know if you’re having a heart attack? Here are a few of the more common signs: anxiety, dizziness, nausea, breaking out in a cold sweat, pain in the jaw, chest, shoulder, or neck, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue. Should you, or someone you know, experience any of those symptoms, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.

All the information in this article was derived from the following organizations. For additional information on how to protect yourself or the women in your life, visit their websites and be sure to share the information.

Stephanie M. Breedlove BSN
Normal, Illinois

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Friday, February 23, 2007  

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