For more than a decade, women have been fighting heart disease as part of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Go Red For Women movement. Since 2004, more than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved, but nearly 1,100 women are still dying each day.
Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of women, claiming the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined. Most women don’t notice the symptoms of heart disease until it’s too late, which is why heart disease has been called the silent killer.
Well-known heart attack symptoms can include chest pain and radiating discomfort in the left arm. But in women, shortness of breath, back pain, jaw pain and nausea may also suggest that something isn’t quite right, potentially with your heart.
Trust your gut. Go to your local emergency room if you are not feeling normal or are experiencing symptoms. It is better to take care of yourself and prevent damage to your heart, in the event you are having a heart attack.
Tips for a healthy heart
To think of heart disease as your leading health threat is scary, until you factor in the good news: you can take significant steps to reduce your risk. The AHA recommends seven simple steps, called Life’s Simple 7, to improve your heart health.
1. Get active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, five times a week.
2. Eat better: A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars and high in a variety fruits and vegetables, whole grain fiber and lean protein.
3. Maintain a healthy weight: If your BMI (body mass index) is 25.0 or higher, you will benefit by bringing your number below
4. Do not smoke: To live a long and healthy life, breaking the nicotine addiction will be very important.
5. Manage blood pressure: Aim for blood pressure levels of less than 120/80.
6. Control cholesterol: Keep LDL or bad cholesterol levels below 100 mg/dL, HDL or good cholesterol above 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women, and triglycerides under 100 mg/dL
7. Reduce blood sugar: A fasting blood sugar level below 100 mg/dL is considered ideal.
In celebration of heart health, families, landmarks, companies and babies went red to bring attention to heart health.
Los Angeles County landmarks, including the LA International Airport, participated in a dazzling display of support for the fight against heart disease in women. The buildings lit up their exterior red or the shape of a giant heart as a visual reminder that we all have the power to beat heart disease.
Many companies, including Union Bank, Huntington Hospital and UCLA, joined in the effort to raise awareness, with hundreds of employees wearing red on National Wear Red Day.
Visit www.heart.org to access additional resources on heart-healthy living.