Chocolates and cupids aside, February’s not just the month to love with all your heart but also the month to love on your heart. Heart disease is the number one killer of African American women, causing one in three deaths each year! Age aint nothing but a number and being fit doesn’t make you exempt. So read on and learn how to lower your risk and protect your ticker.
Know the signs. 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Yet, only 1 in 5 believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat. Which is no surprise since 60 percent of people hospitalized for a heart attack initially confused their symptoms with stress or indigestion. So yes your heart rate may sky rocket when that hot guy on the 12th floor walks by your desk, or your chest may feel tight during your Saturday bootcamp, but these symptoms can also mean you are going under cardiac arrest. So be aware of:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
- Moments of breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
If you feel it, tell it. Contact your doctor and get checked out asap.
Kick up your cardio. There’s no better way to stop sweating the small stuff than to actually sweat. Your heart is a muscle, so just like the other 600 plus in your body it needs good working. Anything that raises your heart rate counts so aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise per day on most days. Already have a pretty rockstar cardio routine? Try adding moves that combine cardio and strength training to increase your aerobic capacity, improve your fitness and overall heart functionality.
Kick out certain foods and habits. Along with exercise, the best way to maximize your hearts health is via the things that enter your mouth…your diet. Lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats keeps your blood moving and your weight down. So limit your intake of fried and processed foods and fill up on things that go by one name like fruits and veggies. Oh, and while we’re cleaning up what passes through your chomper lets also ditch smoke. Smoking causes about 30 percent of all heart disease and strokes (along with a host of many other preventable diseases).
Know your digits. The number of people in your family who have suffered from heart disease, your weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels all have a significant impact on your heart’s health. Track these key numbers and check in with them regularly; paying super close attention to your blood pressure. What are you looking for?
- LDL (bad cholesterol) < than 100 mg/dl
- HDL (healthy cholesterol) > than 50 mg/dl
- Blood glucose < than 100 mg/dl
- Blood pressure < than 115/75
No excuses yall! In support of American Heart Month, Walgreens pharmacies and Take Care Clinics nationwide will by providing free blood pressure testing all of February!
Statistics Source: Go Red For Women