Take charge of your health with the facts: heart disease is the number one killer of women. Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Fortunately, nearly 80% of cardiac events can be prevented. But only if you know what to do. Here are some tips.
- First, to help other women – and men in your family, too – become more aware of this key fact, wear red this Friday, February 7. Wearing red on Go Red for Women day can help raise awareness about preventing heart disease, stroke and other heart problems in women.
- Second, talk with your health care provider about how you can keep your heart healthy for a lifetime. If it’s been awhile since you had a checkup, or a blood pressure check, call and schedule them today.
- Third, assess the quality of your health. You may want to start with your doctor and the two of you develop a care plan that helps you take control of your health.
- The next step is to implement your care plan. Spend some time thinking about how you can realistically make these changes in your lifestyle. Make this commitment for you, not because somebody else is nagging you to do it. You know the reasons you want to be healthy. Plan how you can most effectively implement your care plan. Include what motivates you, what things or situations cause you setbacks and how you’ll overcome those setbacks. Be realistic about what changes you can maintain. Write this down and be sure to track your progress every day.
- Include better food choices, regular exercise and stress reduction in your plan. You’ve heard this a million times before, but that’s because making these choices work! Risk factors for heart disease are still high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and being a couch potato.
- Know the warning signs of heart attacks. If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 for an ambulance if no one can drive you. Paramedics can evaluate you immediately, get treatment started right away and know which hospital is the best choice for you.
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It can last longer than a few minutes or can go away and come back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat or feeling nauseous or lightheaded.
- Women are more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
- Try to stay calm and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for emergency responders. Follow the 9-1-1 operator’s instructions.
- Know the warning signs of stroke: Stroke warnings happen very suddenly. You must get immediate help to prevent further damage to your brain. If you have even one of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. It’s important to note the time that symptoms first start. Lifesaving treatment must begin within three hours of the first symptom to reduce long-term disability and paralysis.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding someone
- Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- A simpler way to remember stroke symptoms is F.A.S.T.:
Time to call 9-1-1