As women, we spend a lot of time watching for signs of cancers related to a woman’s body. We have mammograms regularly and “well-woman” visits to rule out uterine or ovarian cancers. But most of us don’t know that the number one killer of American women is heart disease.
That’s right—heart disease kills more women than ALL types of cancer combined. One in four women will die of heart disease, while one in thirty will die of breast cancer. Don’t get me wrong, we should still be vigilant about our overall health including doing all those things we abhor like breast exams and gynecological check-ups, but don’t ignore your greatest health threat—heart attack.
So why do so many women suffer from heart disease anyway? Good question, and there are probably lots of reasons we don’t yet know, but here are some we do.
Women are reluctant to see a health professional about their symptoms, and because our symptoms are different from those of men, we are often misdiagnosed when we do. Women don’t put their health as a top priority—always too busy taking care of everyone else. We think we’re not old enough to be at risk for heart disease. We feel too busy to make changes in our lives (sounding familiar yet, ladies?). And we’re already feeling stressed and tired!
Well, guess what—if you don’t start taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to keep caring for all those people you love.
The good news is that heart attacks can often be avoided by a healthy lifestyle. I know what you’re thinking. Here we go again with the regular physical activity, healthy eating, not smoking and stress management. You’re right! Those are exactly the things that could save your life or the life of a woman you love.
Heart disease begins in women after 40 years of age and hits a higher risk range after age 55. Ladies, we may not feel old enough (and we certainly don’t look old enough) to be at risk for a heart attack, but if these numbers look familiar to you as seen on your driver’s license or birthday cards, you are at risk.
February is Women and Heart Disease awareness month, and it’s about time we started to learn more about our number one killer! Friday, February 5 is “Go Red” day. Wear something red to draw attention to our need to take better care of our hearts.
Next week we will talk about risk factors and symptoms in women.
If you would like to learn more about risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments, schedule a presentation for your group or organization by contacting me at 512-750-6362 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valentine’s Day is when we show others we love them through giving a symbolic heart. This Valentine’s Day, show them you love them by learning what you can do to live a longer, healthier life by taking care of your heart.