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The 28 days of fighting heart disease

February is American Heart Month, drawing attention to heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer, and the strides being taken through research and education to raise awareness of risk factors and to decrease death rates. The American Heart Association and its Go Red For Women movement urge everyone to support the fight against heart disease in women by wearing red that day.

REASONS TO BELIEVE

1. Heart disease is women’s No. 1 killer – it affects more women than men and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. But it’s 80% preventable, so be sure to join our Go Red. Get Fit. Be Healthy. 28 day challenge on Facebook. I’ll be your virtual host and we’ll get heart healthy together.

2. Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap continues to grow.

3. FEBRUARY 3: In recognition of National Wear Red Day today, Go Red For Women asks everyone Go Red today. Help save a life by bringing awareness to the No. 1 killer of women. Put on some red today and show us! Tag your selfie with #GoRedMI

4. While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, one in three dies of cardiovascular disease. Share this fact with your girlfriends, sisters and moms today. Let’s unite to fight the number on killer of women – heart disease.

5. Did you know African-American women are disproportionately affected by heart disease and its risk factors? Like other ethnic groups, they also confront barriers to diagnosis, disparities in care and poorer health outcomes than their Caucasian counterparts. Learn more on GoRedForWomen.org

6. It’s called a "heart" attack, but the symptoms can affect other parts of the body, namely the arms, back, neck, jaw, and stomach. If you feel an unexplained discomfort in the center of the chest that feels like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, or pain or discomfort in any of these areas of your upper body, you may be having a heart attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

7. An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease, yet only one in five American women believes that heart disease is her greatest health threat. Talk to your doctor about your heart health every time you see him or her. For a list of topics to discuss with your physican, visit GoGedForWomen.org/wellwomanvisit

8. Today we want you to cut the salt. Americans consume more than twice the recommended amount. Aim for less than 6 teaspoons of sodium per day. So put away that salt shaker today and try some herbs to season your foods.

9. If you or someone you know shows signs of heart attack or stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team can begin treatment when it arrives. That means treatment can begin sooner than it would if the patient arrived at the hospital by car. What's more, the EMS team is also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped, which saves hundreds of lives each year.

10. Do you have high blood pressure? If you do stick to the foods containing high levels of potassium, low levels of sodium, or both. And read the labels on frozen or canned foods before you buy. And a brisk 30 minute walk most days can also lower your blood pressure.

11. Although stress doesn’t cause heart disease, constant (chronic) stress, can negatively affect your health and can cause issues relating to your heart. When stress is constant, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. Chronic stress that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may damage the artery walls. So be sure to manage your stress, take time for yourself and your heart will thank you.

12. Fewer than 1% of all Americans are in ideal cardiovascular health as defined by the American Heart Association, yet 39% of Americans believe they are in ideal health. To see how healthy you are, visit Life’s Simple 7 on heart.org. Learn your heart score and how you can improve it today.

13. Studies show that being physically fit lowers heart disease risk even in people who have other health problems such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. However, you can’t just exercise a lot and ignore other risk factors. To minimize risk, you should be physically active and avoid the other major risk factors you can do something about: cigarette smoke, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and unhealthy body weight.

14. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease is to start getting regular, moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. So, join me and get some motivation from our 28 Day Challenge on Facebook. Together we can get heart healthy.

15. Only 43 percent of African American women and 44 percent of Hispanic women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk, compared with 60 percent of white women. So, if you’re African American or Latino be sure to talk with your doctor about your heart health. Do it today!

16. February 16th –Join me today on Twitter at noon to learn about women’s heart health and how we can reduce our chances of developing heart disease. I will be hosting an American Heart Association chat. We’ll have doctors, dietitians, and other health experts on hand to answer your questions. Follow #GoRedMI on Twitter.

17. Heart disease can be prevented. In fact, research shows that 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented if you make the right choices involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. You can make changes to help stop heart disease by knowing your number, visiting your doctor once a year, getting 30 minutes of exercise daily, quitting smoking and eating healthy.

18. To start eating healthier, consider planning meals in advance – visit heart.org for recipes from a number of heart-healthy cookbooks and use the online grocery list builder to quickly identify heart-healthy products to add to your grocery list.

19. In women, heart disease is too often a silent killer – less than a third of women in a recent survey reported any early warning signs such as chest pain or discomfort before a heart attack, compared with most men. Learn the signs today of a heart attack and stroke.

20. Are you diligent about getting your cholesterol checked? Many women aren’t, and it’s because they think they don’t have to. But we do need to because when cholesterol builds in the inner walls of our arteries over time, it hardens and turns into plaque. That plaque can narrow the artery walls and reduce blood flow, which you guessed it, can cause blocks that can lead to blood clots, heart attacks or strokes.

21. You can learn where you stand on the road to good health in just seven simple steps: physical activity, weight management, healthy eating, not smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. Get a personal health score and action plan at mylifecheck.org.

22. Only slightly more than half of women are likely to call 911 if experiencing symptoms. And yet, 79 percent of women said that they would call 911 if someone else was having a heart attack. If you feel pressure in your chest, upset stomach, pain in your jaw or back, you could be having a heart attack. Call 911 immediately.

23. Food for thought. Research shows a brain-healthy diet can reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Try skinless poultry, beans, fruits and vegetables, fish, and whole grain/high fiber foods. Need some recipes for these healthy foods? Visit heart.org/recipes.

24. Just by adding one hour of regular, vigorous physical activity, adults may gain up to two hours of life expectancy. Start thinking about your heart by including more physical activity into your daily routine. Take a walk, ride a bike or take the stairs.

25. Did you know in one 20 oz regular soda there is about 16 teaspoons of sugar? That’s about equal to 6 glazed donuts. You wouldn’t eat 6 glazed donuts in a sitting, why drink the soda? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day for men, while women and children should consume less than 6 teaspoons. Rethink your drink today and go for the water.

26. During a heart check up, your doctor takes a careful look at your "numbers," including your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, your blood pressure and more. Knowing your numbers is an important part of keeping your heart healthy. It can help you and your doctor know your risks and mark the progress you're making toward a healthier you.

27. Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. If you smoke cigarettes (or cigars), you have a higher risk of illness and death from heart attack, stroke and other diseases. So if you don't smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, love your heart and quit today. Need more motivation? Visit heart.org for help quitting smoking.

28. Uncovering family history can help you to better understand your risk for heart disease. If you have a blood relative with heart disease or a risk factor for genetic heart disease, your risk for developing it significantly increases. So, at your next gathering have a conversation about your family’s health history.

29. Every 80 seconds a women dies of heart disease or stroke. Don’t be one of these women. Take the tips we’ve given you this month and be proactive about your heart health today. Schedule a doctor’s appointment, get some activity in today, and cut out that sugar and sodium. Together we can fight the number one killer of women. Thanks for Going Red with me and the American Heart Association.

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