February is American Heart Month and although, I’m a board certified dermatologist and not a cardiologist, I’m still a big believer in taking care of our entire body and think that we all don’t pay enough attention to our heart. It’s what keeps our blood pumping and does everything from helping our cheeks get a rosy glow when we blush to allowing us to power through a night of hard core hip hop dancing with Angel Roberts at her Peace Love and Hip Hop classes.
Heart disease is the # 1 killer of American women and unfortunately 1 in every 3 women dies of heart disease. The scary part of it all is that nearly two-thirds of American women who die suddenly of a heart attack had no prior symptoms.
We can lower their risk of heart disease by as much as 82% just by leading a healthy lifestyle. Risk factors you can change are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight and being physically inactive. However there are some risk factors you cannot change like a family history of heart disease, Age (55 or older for women) and race or ethnicity. More than 35% of American women are overweight and more than 25% of American women are still smoking…(which also takes a toll on your skin!) and these factors weigh heavily into the situation.
The American Heart Association has a great campaign that helps women get heart healthy at any ages. They have some great tips for women from their 20s all the way into the 60+ years. Here’s a link to their site: http://www.goredforwomen.org/heart_healthy_at_any_age.aspx
The signs and symptoms of heart disease may differ between women and men.The most common symptom of heart attack in men and women is chest pain or discomfort. But unfortunately, only half of women who have heart attacks have chest pain.
Some signs from women experiencing a heart attack:
Back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue or problems breathing. They can also experience upper body discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, or the stomach. Other symptoms of heart attack are lightheadedness and fainting, which occur more often in women than men.
In the end, just like taking care of your skin, taking care of your heart requires a healthy lifestyle and exercise. So incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet and make sure your diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar. It may seem a little difficult at first but once you get on track, you will feel great! So love your heart and it will love you back!