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COSMB Cares: February is American Heart Month

Colorado Springs Moms Blog cares deeply about our community. To that end, we are launching a monthly series called "COSMB Cares." In these posts, we will highlight a national or international cause and one or more of the local organizations working to improve that situation. February is American Heart Month. This second installment of "COSMB Cares" focuses on the signs of heart disease and how you can get involved locally.

Did you know that the #1 killer of American women is heart disease, including stroke?

A common misconception is that breast cancer is the leading cause of death. However, breast cancer kills approximately 1 in 30 women while heart disease kills 1 in 3. That’s more than the number of women who die from all types of cancers combined.

Heart disease claims the life of about one woman every 80 seconds! This number is astounding and devastating, considering that a healthy lifestyle can prevent most causes. 

Additional Facts from the Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease:

  • Although sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” about the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that it is their No. 1 killer.
  • It is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, it is second only to cancer.
  • About 5.8% of all white women, 7.6% of black women, and 5.6% of Mexican American women have heart disease.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of this disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk.

Women are More Likely to Die of a Heart Attack or Stroke than Men

There are several reasons for this.

Women are much more likely to ignore or under estimate the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. And they are more likely to delay before seeking treatment. One study found a median delay time of women to be 54 hours compared to 16 hours for men. Immediate care is crucial because heart muscle can deal with not having blood for about an hour and a half. After that, the muscle begins to die.

The signs of a heart attack are different for women than men. Studies suggest that during a heart attack, women often have atypical symptoms including nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and unusual fatigue. These symptoms can occur as much as a month before the actual attack. However, they are often misdiagnosed as panic disorders, stress, and hypochondria. Women are also more likely to feel a discomfort in the chest or pain in the jaw, shoulder, or arm rather than the crushing pain men report experiencing during a heart attack.

Here is a list of signs to watch out for that indicate a life threatening emergency from the American Heart Association’s website.

American Heart Association

The American Heart Association was founded in 1924. The goal of this organization is to provide education to the public, including CPR classes and healthy life style classes, and to educate  health care professionals using science based treatment guidelines. In addition, they educate lawmakers and policy makers. There are 156 local offices nationwide with the headquarters located in Dallas, Texas.

Here is the link for the website in Colorado Springs.

Steps to Take To Improve Your Heart Health

The good news is that with education and modest life style changes you can improve your heart health and lower your risk of heart disease by as much as 8o percent. Here are the recommended guidelines from the American Heart Association:

  1. Eat Smart: Read nutritional labels carefully, watch portion sizes, and eat at home often so that you have control over how your meals are prepared.
  2. Add Color: Add vegetables and fruits to every meal to increase the nutritional content of your meals.
  3. Move More: Just start walking. Start with minute intervals and increase with time. Incorporate short bursts of activity in your daily activities.
  4. Be Well: Make sure you are getting the proper amount of sleep for your needs. Establish a bed time routine, and limit caffeine before bed to ensure quality sleep. Take steps to reduce your stress level and aim for a balanced life.

Ways To Get Involved Locally

The American Heart Association, Southern Colorado Division, is always looking for volunteers

Or attend an event. The Healthy for Good Heart Walk will take place in Colorado Springs on June 9. Sign up to walk in the 5K or donate to the cause here. And keep an eye out on the website for the Colorado Springs Go for Red Women’s Luncheon and the Colorado Springs Heart Ball

Need to brush up on your CPR skills? Find a class

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