Today, is a day to wear red in support of the movement for women to take charge of heart health. It’s National Heart Month and this year the American Heart Association will focus on raising awareness to the fact of heart disease in women. Heart disease traditionally thought to be a man’s disease, it is the No. 1 killer of women.
In the past, many of the major cardiovascular research studies were conducted on men. Results of clinical studies underway may help clarify the gender differences that affect diagnosis and treatment of women with heart disease.
According to the AHA, both men and women may present “classic” chest pain that grips the chest and spreads to the shoulder, neck or arms. But, often women may have a greater tendency to have atypical chest pain or to complain of abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, nausea and unexplained fatigue. These symptoms are overlooked and often dismissed.
Knowing your numbers is an important part of keeping your heart healthy. The American Heart Association recommends the following:
Total cholesterol — Less than 200 mg/dl
LDL (bad) cholesterol
• Low risk for heart disease — less than 160mg/dl
• Intermediate risk for heart disease — less than 130 mg/dl
• High risk for heart disease – less than 100 mg/dl
HDL (good) cholesterol – 50 mg/dl or higher
Triglycerides – Less than 150mg/dl
Blood pressure – Less than 120/80 mmHg
Other recommendations to reduce your risk include daily exercise, eating a balance diet, stop smoking and visit your doctor.
Work on healthy eating habits, it is one of the best things you can do to combat heart disease. There is a lot of confusing information out there about how to eat well. In a quick summary, increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables; they are high in nutrients and fiber while low in calories. Eat more whole grain foods, to be sure you are getting whole grains, read the ingredient labels and look for the words “whole-grains.” Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and low fat dairy foods.
For more information about National Heart Month go the American Heart Association’s website at www.americanheart.org For more information on healthy eating habits, contact the Madison County Extension Service.
The University of Florida Extension – Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.