This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
In the United States, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. That’s why Carson City Health and Human Services is teaming up with the American Heart Association this Friday for Go Red for Women.
As women, we know a lot of numbers by heart — phone numbers, birthdays, pin numbers and passwords. When it comes to numbers that pertain to our own health, many of us just aren’t in the know. Visiting your health care provider and learning a few important numbers can help provide you with some important information about your risk for heart disease, including angina (chest pain), heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.
Cholesterol: There are three types of cholesterol. LDL (bad) cholesterol is the type that can clog your arteries and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. It can be hereditary, but a diet high in saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol also increases LDL. HDL (good) cholesterol may help remove excess plaque from your arteries, helping to protect against a heart attack.
The third type, triglycerides, is a form of fat made in the body. High cholesterol has no symptoms, and many people have it without knowing. Ask your doctor to find out what your cholesterol levels are so you can lower them if you need to.
Blood pressure: Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers and written as a ratio.
The top number is the systolic pressure, which is the higher of the two and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Blood pressure can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep. Regular monitoring can help determine if your blood pressure is in a healthy range.
Blood sugar: Getting too much added sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, while contributing to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Reduce your sugar intake by cutting back on foods with added sugars, like sodas, candy, baked goods and sugar-sweetened fruit beverages. Sugar also hides in “healthy” foods, like some types of yogurt and granola bars. If you’re unsure, check the label for ingredients that are sugar in disguise, like high fructose corn syrup.
BMI: To reduce your risk of heart disease, it’s important to keep your weight in a healthy range. This is about more than just looking good in your favorite outfit; this is about your health. If you are overweight, slimming down can help you look and feel better.
While there are some heart disease risks that are out of your control, there are other factors that you can influence to reduce your risk for heart disease. Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and reducing stress can not only help reduce your heart disease risk, they can help you feel better in every area of your life.
This Friday, join employees of CCHHS to support the fight against heart disease by wearing red. To learn more about women and heart disease, visit www.goredforwomen.org. For information about health department services, cvisit www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.