American Heart Month: take care of yourself

Johnson City Press • Feb 5, 2014 at 8:53 AM

It’s fitting that February, the month known for sending Valentine’s Day candy to loved ones in heart-shaped boxes, is also American Heart Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 600,000 Americans will die from heart disease this year. That’s one out of every four deaths in the United States.Another 700,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack. Altogether, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Even so, health officials have seen a markedly significant increase in deaths among women. The American Heart Association says nearly half a million women will die of cardiovascular disease this year. This figure is more than the number of the next four causes of death for women combined.While deaths from heart disease in the United States have dropped by half over the last 25 years, more women than men are now dying from heart attacks.The AHA says new research indicates specific factors and symptoms are unique to a woman’s heart. These differences may account for the fact a woman is more likely than a man to die after her first heart attack. The symptoms of cardiovascular disease for women can include pain in the jawbone, pain under the breastbone, unexplained fatigue and difficulty breathing or indigestion. Sometimes heart disease is misdiagnosed as anxiety, indigestion or a gallbladder problem.Men should also take time this month to access their own heart health. One important step in this regard for many men is to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels. A healthy diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables, along with regular exercise is the best way to battle dangerous cholesterol and heart disease.

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