Women’s contributions to history, culture and society are celebrated and recognized every March for National Women’s History Month. This year the theme, as selected by the National Women’s History Alliance, is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” It speaks to the importance of quality healthcare and that the females in our lives deserve the best care for their bodies and their hearts.
Even with more education now available, heart disease continues to significantly impact women in our communities. It is the leading cause of death in Hawaii. The American Heart Association reports that within the state, nearly four women on average die each day from heart disease and stroke. It can affect women of any age, making it important to understand risk factors and how to live a heart-healthy life.
Heart disease includes a broad range of cardiovascular issues. Chest pain is considered the most common symptom of heart disease or a heart attack, but it isn’t the only one. Women are more likely than men to experience these other symptoms. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach can occur. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort may also be a sign of heart disease. Women have mentioned breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness as additional symptoms.
Heart disease is fatal for many women in our community, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding your risk for heart disease is the first step in prevention. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are the top risk factors. According to the CDC, almost half of the country has one of these three issues. People with diabetes or who are physically inactive and overweight are also at an increased risk. Adopting heart-healthy lifestyle changes can lead to a longer life and provide hope for many women in our community.
- Heart-Healthy Diet: Balanced meals and snacks that include a variety of fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease. Whole grains that are rich in fiber and healthy fats help prevent high cholesterol. It is also best to limit salt, sugar and alcohol in your diet. For more tips and recipes, check out the post: Delicious Heart-Healthy Recipes to try this Winter (hooilo).
- Heart-Healthy Exercise: Routine physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure, among other benefits. Start simple and be sure to discuss exercise plans or changes with your doctor. Most recommend at least 30 minutes of walking each day. The Queen’s Medical Center also offers Cardiac Rehabilitation for some patients with heart disease.
- Heart-Healthy Habits: Make a commitment to learn more about heart disease and healthy living on a regular basis. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative offers valuable information about your heart, simple heart-healthy recipes and inspirational stories of women making an impact to help end cardiovascular diseases.
The Queen’s Heart Institute offers comprehensive cardiac care services for the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Prioritizing women’s heart health is an important part of a healthy and strong ‘ohana.