BY ASHLEY THOMAS
Valentine’s Day is a reminder of love, but it is the entire month of February that is dedicated to the heart. Marking Heart Health Awareness, February has been chosen as the month to really push cardiovascular health.
“Every year, Americans suffer more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes,” explained Stefany Strong, public information officer for the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County. “It is important for our residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat nutritious meals, and participate in regular physical activity to keep their hearts healthy.”
For nearly 100 years, cardiovascular disease has caused more deaths in the U.S. than any other cause. The good news is that within the past 40 years, there has been a striking reduction in coronary heart disease deaths in men. The bad news is that reductions in women have lagged behind, says Volusia/Flagler Florida Hospital spokesperson Lindsay Rew.
Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. Among women, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, one in three dies of heart disease. The fact is heart disease kills approximately one woman every minute.
Cardiovascular health and the Black woman
The American Heart Association says the prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans is the highest in the world.
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, and it can cause permanent damage to the heart before you even notice any symptoms, that’s why it is often referred to as the “silent killer.”
Heart disease is more prevalent among Black women than White women, and also develops earlier in life.
More than 80 percent of midlife African-American women are overweight or obese, 52 percent have high blood pressure, and 14 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes. All of which contribute to an overwhelming cause of heart disease.
Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even with no symptoms, women may still be at risk for heart disease.
To help address this problem, the CDC has created what it calls the Million Hearts Initiative, a national initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The center is pushing these heart-healthy tips that correspond with the “ABCs”:
A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.
B: Control your blood pressure.
C: Manage your cholesterol.
S: Don’t smoke.
For more information on heart health, consult your doctor or visit the American Heart Association online at www.heart.org.