During the month of February it’s not uncommon to see people wearing a lot of red. Red dresses, ties, sweaters and shirts are worn in celebration of Valentine’s Day, mimicking the traditional red hearts and red roses that surround the holiday. But this month the color red is also associated with the American Heart Association’s Heart Month, an effort to raise awareness of heart disease and what people can do to help prevent heart disease.
February kicked off with Go Red for Women on February 1, an important facet of the Heart Month effort to raise awareness of heart disease specifically in women. It’s been a long-held belief by many people that women don’t have heart disease, but this myth has been busted by some staggering statistics. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, and more women than men die from heart disease each year.
It’s important to know the signs and symptoms, as they differ somewhat from what we’ve been taught to look for in men. Women specifically might experience:
– Sudden weakness, shortness of breath, body aches, or fatigue
– Nausea or vomiting, indigestion, or an overall feeling of illness (without chest pain)
– Mild discomfort in the back, chest, arm, neck or jaw (without chest pain)
– Disturbed sleep
Women might also experience some of the same symptoms as men, including:
– Chest pain or discomfort
– Pain radiating to the neck, shoulder, back, arm or jaw
– Difficulty breathing
– Cold sweats or clammy skin
Call 911 immediately if you’re suffering from these symptoms and feel like something might be wrong. When it comes to saving lives of women with heart disease, seconds count. Any delay in treatment can cause permanent damage to your heart.
In addition to understanding the symptoms of a heart attack, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis, to promote heart health and help prevent heart attack and stroke. If you are prescribed blood pressure medication by your doctor, make sure to remember to take all of
your medications as prescribed. It can be easy to forget to take a pill, but sticking to a schedule helps you maintain a regular blood pressure. If you need help remembering, try to associate your medicine with something you already do each day, like brushing your teeth. Putting pills into a
daily organizer can help you remember to take them and also help you keep track of what you take when.
Eating a diet low in sodium and processed foods is also helpful in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. As we age, our appetites diminish and it can feel a lot easier to reach for a frozen dinner or a bowl of cereal than to bother with cooking a meal that you don’t feel like eating. To combat the desire to reach out for easy, sodium-filled snacks, have your refrigerator stocked up with bite-size fruits and cut up vegetables. You can also cook a full-size meal and portion it up to make your own, homemade, preservative-free frozen dinners.
Lastly, regular exercise can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and stroke. Make sure to get up and get moving a little bit every day. Walking with friends at the park is a great way to feel better and get your blood flowing.
Our staff of caregivers at Piedmont Home Health are especially in-tune with the good habits of a healthy lifestyle that will help prevent heart disease. If you’re considering having someone come to the house to help out, we can assist you or your loved one in keeping track of medications, getting some exercise during the day, and even preparing healthy meals. Call our office to set up a time to talk with someone about our services, and help ease the stress of being a caregiver.