February is the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red against heart disease month. The Go Red acronym stands for Get Checked, Own your lifestyle, Realize your risk, Educate your family, and Don’t be silent (spread awareness).  

According to the AHA, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined and claims the lives of 400,000 women each year – about one per minute. However, only 1 in 5 American women believe heart disease poses the greatest threat to her health. African American and Hispanic American women are at even greater risk.

The good news is that heart disease can be prevented. And studies have shown that making healthy choices has resulted in 330 fewer women dying daily from the disease. Lifestyle changes that can prevent heart disease are to eat healthy, manage your blood sugar, don’t smoke or quit if you do, lower your blood pressure, know your family history, stay active and lose or manage your weight.  

Though armed with that information, many women may believe myths about heart disease. Best Health magazine has cleared up the most commons ones listed below.

Three Myths Versus Facts

Symptoms are the same for women and men

The classic symptoms of pain in the arm, jaw or chest are common in both men and women; however, chest pain symptoms are more likely not to occur in women as compared to men.

Birth control pills don’t affect heart disease risk

Oral contraceptives don’t raise the risk of heart disease for most women, but for a small segment, the pill can be associated with an increase in blood clots and heart attacks for women over 40 who smoke, have hypertension or other blood clotting disorders. Taking oral contraceptives can increase the risk of a heart attack.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can prevent heart disease

The Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) concluded that HRT doesn’t offer any reduction in heart disease risk and should only be used to manage menopausal systems.

What else can you do?   

Even though February is heart health month, spread the knowledge every chance you get to reduce the staggering number of heart attack deaths each year. Knowledge is power and could mean the difference between life and death.

Share this article with your daughters, sisters, mothers and all the women in your life to raise heart disease awareness. And participate in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s heart initiative by clicking the link below to raise further awareness.  

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/25-ways-take-part-heart-month

We now have the science, facts and knowledge to win the fight against heart disease.  Let’s make a dedicated effort to use it.

 

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Gail McShan-Elly

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