The leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States is cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke. They kill an estimated 630,000 Americans each year.
Heart disease can be prevented. American Heart Month is a good time to decide what you can do to achieve a heart-healthy life. The most common type of heart problem is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack. You can reduce risk through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication, such as a statin.
The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign urges citizens to spread the message that heart disease is not only a man's problem. More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. Women once believed breast cancer was their greatest health risk; new data show that while one in 30 women die of breast cancer, one in three women die of heart disease. Eighty percent of all cardiac events can be prevented if people made the right choices. The advice for both men and women is the same:
- Watch you weight
- Quit smoking
- Control cholesterol
- Control blood pressure
- Get active and eat healthy
- Manage stress
- Drink alcohol in moderation
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a major cause of long-term disability. Stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack) happen when a blood vessel feeding the brain gets clogged or bursts. The signs of a TIA are like a stroke, but usually last only a few minutes.
- Numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of your body
- Confusion or trouble speaking
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking or loss of balance
- Severe headache with no known cause
- Manage stress
Don't wait more than five minutes before calling 911 for help if you experience any of these signs.
This month, we can rededicate ourselves to reducing the burden of heart disease by taking steps to improve our own heart health and encouraging our families to do the same.