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Dr. Is In

Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined? North Hawaii Community Hospital encourages you to wear the color red on Friday, Feb. 7, to support the American Heart Association’s national “Wear Red Day,” to raise awareness for cardiovascular disease in women.

By wearing red on Feb. 7, you can do your part to encourage and empower women to take charge of their heart health, to band together and wipe out cardiovascular disease which kills one woman in the United States every minute, according to www.goredforwomen.org. In fact, more women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, yet women know very little about the disease.

Who’s at risk?

Knowing your risk is the first step. If you have one or more of the following risk factors, you are considered “high risk” for heart disease:

• Existing coronary heart disease (heart attack, bypass surgery, heart stents).

• Stroke or carotid artery disease (narrowed or blocked arteries that take blood to your brain).

• Blocked arteries in your legs

• Abdominal aortic aneurysm (weakness in the artery in your abdomen).

•Chronic kidneys disease

•Diabetes

If you have one or more of the following risk factors, you aπre considered “at risk” for heart disease:

• Smoke cigarettes

• Poor diet

• Lack of regular physical activity or can’t complete a treadmill exercise test

• Overweight (A Body Mass Index of 25-29.9 or obesity, which is a BMI higher than 30)

• Family history of heart of vascular disease

• Blood pressure higher than 120/80

• Abnormal cholesterol levels

• Heart of other vascular diseases

• Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

• Metabolic syndrome

• Pregnancy complications including the development of high blood pressure or diabetes, delivering a pre-term infant

Not Just Chest Pain

The majority of women think of heart disease as an “old man’s disease.” But did you know women are more likely to experience different symptoms when experiencing a heart attack in place of chest pain? These symptoms can easily be discounted for something else; therefore, women often do not seek immediate medical attention. Learn the signs of a female heart attack and share them with your mother, girlfriend, sister, auntie, and grandma.

1. 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.

2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

4. Other signs, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 911 … Get to a hospital right away. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Reducing Your Risk for a Heart Attack

What can you do to avoid becoming a statistic? A lot! Nearly 80 percent of cardiac events in women could have been prevented by making the right heart-healthy choices. To live an ideal cardiovascular healthy lifestyle, follow all of the following recommendations:

• Blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg and not on medicine for blood pressure

• Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL and not on medicine for cholesterol

• Fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL and not on medicine for blood sugar

• Body mass index less than 25 kg/m2

• Never smoked or quit more than one year ago

• Performs 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week

• Eats a diet of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and high-fiber foods. Eats fish, especially oily fish twice a week or more, though pregnant women should avoid fish with high mercury levels.

• Limits saturated fat, cholesterol, alcohol, sodium, sugar and avoids trans-fatty acids.

If you don’t know your numbers, contact your healthcare provider today. If you need a healthcare provider, contact NHCH at 885-4444 to schedule an appointment.

For 10 years, women have been fighting heart disease as part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement. More than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved, but the fight is far from over. Do your part to fight against heart disease. Wear the color red on Friday, Feb. 7, and choose to live a heart healthy life. For more information about cardiovascular diseases in women or about the American Heart Association’s “National Wear Red Day,” please visit www.goredforwomen.org.