Be heart wise

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. While it is often considered a man’s disease, around the same number of men and women die each year.

Perhaps most disturbing is 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.

During February, our Health Department will be doing a number of things to help bring more awareness to heart health, pinpointing things women, and men, can do to help ensure they live longer. According to Sampson health officials, the department will promote many of its offerings throughout American Heart Month, including cardiovascular disease screening, risk factor testing for heart disease, the check and control of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, intervention, counseling and referral for women receiving services through the agency.

It’s important to pay attention to the awareness campaign, 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, 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.

For more information about the Sampson Health Department’s N.C. WISEWOMAN program, visit or call the Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131, ext. 4214.

The life you save could be your own