February is National Heart Month, and it’s a great time to be more conscious of preventing heart disease. February 9th is Wear Red Day created by the American Heart Association to bring awareness of the #1 killer in this country.
The fact is that heart disease kills more women yearly than all female cancers put together. Yes, even breast cancer! In the US, some 800,000 women live with heart disease. And of these, over half have heart attacks each year. Heart disease claims the life of 1 in every 3 women. Breast cancer claims the life of 1 in every 9 women. The risk of heart disease may go unnoticed which is why many don’t make the connection between risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and heart attack.
Here are the statistics:
38% of women will die within 1 year of a first heart attack compared with 25% of men.
35% of women who have been heart attack survivors will have another heart attack within 6 years compared with 18% of men.
46% of women heart attack survivors will have diminished quality of life within 6 years compared with 22% of men.
Why are womens’ outcomes more devastating than mens?
Part of the reason may be that women wait too long to seek help, therefore have more heart damage. Also some women who suffer a heart attack have no symptoms! If women do have symptoms, their complaints are disregarded or attributed to other health problems.
Womens’ symptoms include palpitations, weakness, nausea, cold perspiration, shortness of breath, dizziness or mild chest discomfort. These symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed and instead of women having a diagnostic evaluation that could point the finger at heart disease and early treatment, they are often given a prescription for an antidepressant or an antacid and sent home.
Women need to be aware of these symptoms and get immediate attention to rule out heart disease before another diagnosis is made.
Wearing red (the color of passion, strength, energy, power and determination) on February 9th can serve as a valuable reminder to get a check-up for risk factors and take good care of your heart.