Be kind to your heart

The statistics are staggering, the realities often ones we had rather not face, but the truth is heart disease is just as deadly for women as it is for men. And if women want to remain healthy, then it’s time they took the statistics seriously and armed themselves with the knowledge they need to recognize heart problems as quickly as they can.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 600,000 Americans dying each year. That’s one in four deaths. What’s more, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the US — heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, more than all cancers combined.

Therefore, the more a woman knows about heart disease, the better chance she has of beating it. It’s the mantra of Go Red for Women, an organization designed to help women become more aware of heart disease’s impact on their lives. That organization is providing life-saving information to women of all ages and ethnicities, increasing gender-focused medical research, and providing a tight community of like-minded champions who have banded together to form an unstoppable army against heart disease in women.

But it is disturbing that even with increased awareness of those facts, some statistics note that only 54 percent of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer.

That’s why it is important to pay attention to all awareness campaigns, participate in the offerings where and when we can, read up on the facts that outline heart disease symptoms that are often not the same for men and women, and find ways to ensure we are doing everything possible to keep both our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones as healthy as possible.

With heart disease the second leading cause of death in Sampson County during 2014-15, the last recorded year on record, there’s no question we all have a vested interest in taking the disease and the precautions seriously.

Pay close attention to these statistics:

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African-America and white women in the US;

• Heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year in Hispanic women;

• For American Indian and Asian women, heart disease is second only to cancer;

• About 5.8 percent of all white women, 7.6 percent of all African-American women; and 5.6 percent of Mexican American women have coronary heart disease;

• Almost two-thirds, or 64 percent, of women who dies suddenly of heart disease have had no previous symptoms.

Most is alarming is perhaps the last statistic: Even if you have no symptoms of coronary heart disease, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

So knowledge is vital; a pro-active approach to your health imperative.

It is best, for example, to be aware of your blood pressure and keep it under control; quit smoking; keep your cholesterol and triglycerides checked by your heathcare provider; make healthy food choices; limit alcohol; lower your stress; and exercise as often as you can, even if that is merely walking more.

Some or all of these things can help you lower the risk of heart disease. Won’t you consider them? The life you save can very well be your own.