Care for your heart

Heart disease is preventable, know the signs and calculate your personal risk

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February is traditionally American Heart Association month, a time when we are reminded of the warning signs of heart disease. Women are being encouraged to take action to know their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index to curb cardiovascular risk.

Right here in our own county, Paris Community Hospital/Family Medical Center hosted a sold out Wear Red luncheon Friday, providing an opportunity to those attending to learn about preparing more heart healthy meals.

Women’s awareness of heart disease warning signs and risks has increased in recent decades. A study found that more than half of women surveyed in 2009 knew that cardiovascular disease was their leading cause of death, up from less than a third of women in 1997. However, many women still believe that breast cancer is their top health threat. The truth is heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S.

We all have seen movies where a man gasps, clutches at his chest and falls to the ground. A heart attack for a woman may not be as dramatic. A woman may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.

Heart disease is preventable:

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease.

Quit smoking. One year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease reduces by 50 percent.

Exercise. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Modify your diet to reduce fat and sugar.

We urge our readers — no matter their age — to not only educate themselves about heart health but visit their healthcare providers to find out their personal risk for heart disease.