According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular diseases are the No.1 killer of women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined, killing one woman about every 80 seconds. With February being American Heart Month, it's an ideal time for women to reflect upon what can be done to prioritize their heart health, this month and beyond.
It's key for women to know their risk for heart disease and stroke, and to take actions to live a healthier lifestyle. According to AHA, women in particular may experience unique stages of life that pose specific cardiovascular health risk factors, including pregnancy and menopause. Knowing how to navigate those life events with heart health in mind is vital.
Research also indicates that women, especially women of color, are disproportionately impacted by heart disease and stroke, with research indicating heart attacks are on the rise in younger women. Here are a few action items women can use to ensure they're on top of their heart health:
- Know your numbers! These are your key personal health numbers that help determine your risk for heart disease: Total cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index.
- Know your family history and talk to your doctor. It's never not a good time to talk about your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Lower your risk by utilizing AHA resources focusing on physical activity, healthy eating, controlling blood pressure and managing sleep and stress.
Ensure you're also aware of the symptoms for heart attack and stroke, so you're prepared and can recognize when a situation requires medical assistance.
For more information on how to get involved with AHA through volunteering, giving, advocacy and more, visit American Heart Association.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.