With February and Valentine's Day, what better topic this month than heart health? Go Red For Women is a cause of the American Heart Association designed to raise awareness and support the fight against heart disease in women. When it comes to health facts, many people think that heart disease specifically affects men and that it is not as prevalent among women. However, the Centers For Disease Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists heart disease as the leading cause of death for both men AND women in the United States.
The American Heart Association lists the following facts about women and cardiovascular diseases:
- Cardiovascular disease ranks first among all disease categories in hospital discharges for women.
- Nearly 39% of all female deaths in America occur from cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease is a particularly important problem among minority women. The death rate due to cardiovascular disease is substantially higher in black women than in white women.
- In 2003, cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of 483,842 females compared to 267,902 from all forms of cancer combined.
- 38% of women compared with 25% of men will die within one year after a heart attack.
- Misperceptions still exist that cardiovascular disease is not a real problem for women.
As previously mentioned, a primary reason for the Go Red program is to raise awareness among women because most women lack an understanding of their risks for heart disease. A 2003 American Heart Association study of over 1,000 women revealed the lack of understanding that women have of the dangers of heart disease and stroke. According to the results, only a mere 13% of women believe that heart disease and stroke are their greatest health threats.
In general, we can all take steps to lower our risks for heart disease. These steps include:
- Preventing and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Not using tobacco and limiting alcohol intake.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Exercising daily and eating a healthy diet.