Get Healthy Carson City: Red is a heart-shaped box of chocolates and heart health for women | NevadaAppeal.com

Get Healthy Carson City: Red is a heart-shaped box of chocolates and heart health for women

Veronica Galas, RN
Carson City Health and Human Services

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Information for this article was taken from the American Heart Association at http://www.goredforwomen.org.

February is a month for the color red. It's a month known for valentines, red roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. February is also the month when the American Heart Association invites us all to "Go Red for Women." To prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects, Carson City Health and Human Services also invites you to participate in American Heart Month. It's about all women making a choice to take charge of their own heart health. Also, everyone can support the health of the women you can't bear to live without.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The fact is heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. That is approximately one woman every minute! If you had heart disease, would you recognize the symptoms?

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack

If you have any of these signs, call 911 and get to a hospital right away.

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Pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Sweating. Pressure. Nausea. Jaw pain. Believe it or not, these might all be symptoms of a heart attack in women. So, before you pass that jaw pain off as the result of sleeping funny or lightheadedness as something a snack or rest can fix, learn the symptoms. Do not ignore these possible signs of a heart attack.

Is there good news? Yes! Nearly 80 percent of heart events can be prevented. You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

Talk to your doctor to learn about your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI). The best numbers for adults: blood pressure — 120/80 mm/HG or lower, fasting blood sugar — 100, and BMI – 25 kg/m2.

Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

Take an active part in keeping a healthy weight:

Get active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. Schedule time for exercise. Add exercise to a daily checklist. Set an exercise alarm on your phone. Exercise with a friend to keep you both on target. Park further away in a parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a dance break. Walk or jog in place while watching your favorite TV show.

Eat healthy. Eat fish at least two times each week. Snack on a small handful of unsalted nuts or seeds. Use oils lower in fat like avocado, canola, corn, grapeseed, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower. Do not add salt at the table.

As women, we tend to put others ahead of ourselves. But if we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of everyone else around us. If you don't make your health a priority, who will? Good health becomes easier when we seek support from others. So, grab a friend, a family member, and make a Go Red Behavior change commitment today.

Carson City Health and Human Services urges everyone to take an active role in your health. For additional resources and information about Department programs and services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or "like" us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs, call us at 775-887-2190 or visit us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.