February is Heart Health Month and so in today’s ‘Science Says’ Sunday post, I’m sharing some facts about heart health!
Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women in the US? Among women, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. Still, for decades, heart disease has been considered a disease that mostly men get/have. The reality is that heart disease occurs in high numbers for both men and women, and women have poorer results after having heart disease than men. Interestingly, heart attacks happen in men at younger ages than they do in women, but when women do have heart attacks, women are less likely to survive than men. We don’t really understand why middle-aged men have more heart attacks than women in the same age group. But in general unhealthy habits—including smoking and stress—may be part of the reason. In women, heart disease risk appears to rise after menopause; experts believe that in younger women, naturally occurring hormones may play a protective role.
We also know that some race/ethnicities are at greater risk for heart disease, but why? For women, the reasons are complex. Some factors include:
- Black women are more likely to have hypertension compared to non-Hispanic White and Mexican American women.
- Diabetes prevalence is much higher in Black and Mexican American women compared to non-Hispanic White women.
- Risk factors such as overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity are greater among Black and Hispanic women, than among White Non-Hispanic women. Most of the data in the US has focused on the largest group of Hispanic/Latinos, which is largely comprised of Mexican Americans. The Hispanic/Latino population is incredibly diverse, however, comprised of Mexican Americans, but also Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central and South Americans, among others. Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos tells us that the burden of cardiovascular disease risk factors can vary greatly across subgroups of Hispanic/Latinos.
Here is an acronym that can help you remember some of the key things to help prevent heart disease: GO RED.
G: GET YOUR NUMBERS
Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
O: OWN YOUR LIFESTYLE
Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy.
It’s up to you. No one can do it for you.
R: REALIZE YOUR RISK
We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one of three women and one in four men.
E: EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY
Make healthy food choices for you and your family.
Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
D: DON’T BE SILENT
Tell every man and woman you know (but especially women, so we can change the perception that it’s only a man’s disease) that heart disease is our No. 1 killer.
Whether you are a man or woman, know that you should be aware of your risk for heart disease and work to lower that risk as much as possible. Heart disease—and the conditions that lead to it—can happen at any age. High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35-64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking).
Take control of your health and risk and remember GO RED!!
Sources for this week post came from: