Love is in the air. Colorful flowers, balloons, elegantly-decorated boxes of chocolate, greeting cards with messages of love and fluffy stuffed animals are just a few of the things that make their way into local stores in February. Giving your significant other a Valentine’s Day gift is a very sweet and romantic gesture but an even better gesture would be to sit down with your loved one and discuss some of the things you can do to take better care of each other’s hearts. You do want to grow old together, right? Taking care of yourself and each other says, “I want to be healthy and I want you to be healthy too so that we can be around for a long time and share our lives with each other.” Now, that’s love!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” it is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, and women account for nearly 50% of heart disease deaths. This disease is largely preventable, but kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. While heart disease risk begins to rise in middle age, the disease develops over time and can start at a young age, even in the teen years. It’s never too early, or too late, to take action to prevent and control the risk factors.
What can you do for yourself and your loved ones?
Know the risk factors for heart disease and tell others about them too: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, age (55 or older for women), and family history. Talk to your doctor. Find out your risk and take action to lower it.
Make an appointment to see your doctor or visit your local clinic and ask these questions:
1. What is my risk for heart disease?
2. What screening or diagnostic tests for heart disease do I need?
3. What are my numbers and what do they mean?
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol – total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides
- Body mass index and waist circumference measurement
- Blood sugar level (an indicator for diabetes)
4. What can you do to help me quit smoking?
5. How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?
6. What is a heart-healthy eating plan for me?
Take your doctor’s advice. Exercise regularly, eat healthier, stop smoking. Choose a healthier lifestyle. You will have more energy and be in a better mood, and you could potentially add years to your life so that you can spend more time with the ones you love. Make this year’s Valentine’s Day all about the heart!
To find out more about women and heart disease, visit hearttruth.gov or call the NHLBI Health Information Center at (301) 592-8573.
Tagline: Susana Loro is committed to finding ways to live her happiest and healthiest life every day and inspiring others to do the same. Susana has worked for various local nonprofits and government organizations. Currently, she is working part-time for a binational recycling operations company while training to become a certified holistic health coach. She is active in the City Heights community as a member of the Board of Management at the Copley Family YMCA. Susana is also planning to begin her graduate studies at San Diego State University next fall.