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American Heart Month: Go Red for the Women You Love

February was American Heart Month, and this year Bethesda Senior Living is proud to celebrate the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for the Women You Love” campaign. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.

“This is a staggering statistic, so we at Bethesda Senior Living Communities encourage our residents, their families and all Americans to get educated about heart disease and take steps to prevent it,” said Larry Smith, president of BSLC. “We’re committed to helping our residents by providing heart-healthy meals, wellness and exercise programs, and assistance with medication management.”

The most important thing all of us can do is to know our risk for heart disease, adjust our lifestyles to include a well-balanced diet and exercise, and schedule routine physicals to monitor ongoing health. To get more involved in the American Heart Association’s “Go Red” initiative, visit the campaign’s website, which includes an assessment for risk factors, recommendations for healthier living and personal stories.

Heart Disease in Women vs. Men

The reason “Go Red for the Women You Love” is so important is because heart disease shows up differently in women than it does in men.

The stereotypical image of a heart attack is a man who feels acute pain, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. But woman often have “silent heart attack symptoms,” including shortness of breath, back pain, jaw pain and nausea.

But just because these symptoms are less obvious does not mean they are no less dangerous. It’s important for women to be aware and seek medical treatment if they experience any of these symptoms.

An Ounce of Prevention

Of course, the best way to treat heart disease is to prevent its development. The American Heart Association offers three steps for prevention:

  • Identify your risk factors. Some, such as family history, will be out of your control, but others, such as smoking or obesity, can be managed with lifestyle changes.

  • Know your numbers. An annual physical will give you insight into your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and other numbers. The Heart Association identifies blood pressure of 120/80, fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dL and body-mass index of 25 kg/m2 as the thresholds for being at-risk for heart disease.

  • Take action. The Heart Association offers “Simple 7” steps for taking control of your heart health and living a long, healthy and productive life.