Unite to end heart disease

Go Red volunteers include members of the Plumas Bank administration department.

Go Red volunteers include members of the Plumas Bank administration department.

Just the facts

Our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are at risk. Heart disease does not discriminate, and affects women from all age groups, ethnicities, family histories and walks of life. That’s why it’s so important for us to act and not put our health last on the list of things do. We must make a change to fight heart disease and stroke and live longer, healthier lives.

Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart diseases, stroke and other vascular diseases, causes the deaths of one out of every three women annually. That’s about 401,500 women’s deaths in a year. The good news is that 80 percent of cardiac events in women may be prevented if they make the right choices for their hearts, involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

The movement

In 1997, the American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, began a movement when it launched its groundbreaking “Take Wellness To Heart” awareness campaign created by women for women. In February 2004, the association launched Go Red For Women — extending the effort that began in 1997 — with a primary goal to educate women that heart disease is their leading cause of death … a fact most women still do not take to heart.

For 12 years, the Go Red For Women movement has challenged women to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk. Furthermore, the movement plays a leading role in providing women with the tools they need to lead heart-healthy lives.

So, what can you do to lead a heart-healthier life? Schedule a Well-Woman Visit: invest an hour in your life to save the rest. A Well-Woman Visit is a scheduled prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses.

You can also go red — literally. Part of Go Red For Women includes National Wear Day, which occurs the first Friday in February each year — Feb. 5, this year. On this day, the American Heart Association encourages women (and men!) everywhere to wear red — whether it’s a red dress, red T-shirt or red lipstick. Show the world you passionately support Go Red For Women, the movement to improve women’s heart health and save lives. Here in northern Nevada, local sites such as the Reno Arch will be lit the entire month of February.

You can also join the movement at GoRedForWomen.org. Joining the movement allows you to connect with women nationwide who share your passion to prevent heart disease. You can also help advocate for more women-related research and education.

Your health

It’s not enough to be aware of the risk factors associated with heart disease. Women must take action to prevent it.

Here are some ways you can take care of your heart:

Get regular checkups

Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers

Follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet and exercise

Take prescribed medications as directed

If you smoke, quit now

Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day

Eat a heart-healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods and fish

Limit food high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol

For average Americans, limit your salt intake to less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day

If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation — an average of no more than one drink a day for non-pregnant women

Make small choices such as the stairs instead of the elevator or baked instead of fried. These choices can add up to big results when it comes to living a longer, healthier life

Finally, don’t ignore the warning signs. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most of them start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often the people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.

Common symptoms women may experience when having a cardiac event include:

Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes

Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, or inside the arms or shoulders

Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath

Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin

Paleness or pallor

Increased or irregular heart rate

Feeling of impending doom

Local involvement

In addition to taking charge of your health, you can get involved locally. The American Heart Association Northern Nevada Division needs your help. Volunteer your time, donate your dollars or participate in an event. Please call 775- 322-7065 or visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/northernnevada or Twitter @AHA_ASANNevada.


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