February is American Heart Month, a time to reflect on heart health and the prevention of heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
More than half of women, however, do not realize their susceptibility to heart disease. Too often women do not realize they are suffering from a heart attack until it’s too late.
Know the Signs of a Heart Attack
It’s important to understand the signs of a heart attack so you can recognize them and respond appropriately. Here are some of the most common warning signs.
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes 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, nausea or feeling lightheaded
- Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain
- If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately
Tips for Heart Disease Prevention
In order to reduce your risk of heart disease, follow these simple steps.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high-fiber foods
- Eat fish at least twice a week, or talk to your health care provider about taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil
- Do your best to eat less salt, and limit your sodium intake to 1500 milligrams a day
- Avoid trans-fatty acids
- Eat little saturated fat, such as fat from meat, cheese and butter; less than 7 percent of your total calories a day is ideal.
- Eat less than 150 milligrams of cholesterol a day
- Drink no more than one alcoholic drink a day
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products
- Get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, such as brisk walking
Although not all forms of heart disease are preventable, it is important to know some of the causes of heart disease and methods of preventing tragedy in many cases.