Despite public awareness campaigns such as Red Dress Day, almost half of all American women still don't know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Research also shows that only slightly more than half of women would call for emergency help if they were having heart attack symptoms.
What are the risk factors? Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. They can also increase the chances that an existing disease will get worse. Important risk factors for heart disease are:
• High blood pressure
• High blood cholesterol
• Being overweight
• Being physically inactive
• Having a family history of early heart disease
• Age (55 or older for women)
What are the warning signs of a Heart Attack?
• Chest Discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
• Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body: Can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
• Shortness of Breath: Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before the chest discomfort.
• Other Signs: May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
Fast Action Saves Lives! If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away. Don’t wait for more than a few minutes—5 minutes at most—to call 9-1-1. If you are having symptoms and cannot call 9-1-1, have someone else drive you to the hospital right away. Never drive yourself, unless you have absolutely no other choice. For more information, go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/tools.htm
10 tips for a heart-friendly kitchen:
1. Shop the perimeter of your local grocery store. This is where you will typically find fresh produce, dairy, seafood and meat.
2. Say goodbye to processed foods such as frozen meals and canned goods. These items are often very high in sodium and simple carbohydrates.
3. Use fresh herbs to add flavor to your cooking rather than salt.
4. Replace butter with olive and vegetable oil, which are both healthier and tastier. Instead of serving butter with bread, try olive oil topped with fresh thyme or basil.
5. Quit frying your foods. Baking, broiling and grilling are much healthier options. You can also try slow cooking to get the best flavors out of vegetables, chicken and fish.
6. Welcome fish and chicken into your diet. While both are low in fat, fish contains omega fatty acids, which are important in lipid management.
7. Limit red meat and pork. They are higher in fat and speed up the atherosclerosis process, or hardening of the arteries, which leads to heart disease.
8. Enjoy fresh fruit for dessert rather than high-calorie options like cake or ice cream.
9. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day (12 oz. beer, 4 oz. glass of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits). Red wine contains heart-healthy flavonoids and antioxidants, but that does not make it safe to drink in excess. Excessive drinking can lead to alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity and stroke.
10. Watch your serving size. The key is keeping portion sizes small. Try using smaller plates. In fact, dinner plates used to be much smaller than what we are used to today.