- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
February Is About Hearts More Than You May Know
February 5, 2010 - National Wear Red Day!
February, All About Hearts!
The month of February is more about hearts than you may know. Of course Valentine's Day is on February 14th, and involves all kinds of love and heart related things, but not everyone knows that February 5, 2010 is "National Wear Red Day ®", as declared by the American Heart Association. This day is meant to bring awareness to the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, much more so than any other disease. More so than all cancers added together! This is a matter of special importance to me, as I have written a hub detailing my experience with open heart surgery in February, 2009, as well as the fact that my sister and father also have heart disease. my father is the only surviving member of his parents and siblings-they all died from heart disease and heart attacks. I even lost an uncle, my father's only brother, in his late 30's from a heart attack. I never got to meet him or my grandmother (who I am named after) as they both died before I was born-from heart disease. My father has had a major heart attack, at least one heart stent, and now has a pacemaker at 73. He had his heart attack in his mid 50's and half of his heart doesn't even work anymore from the damage that caused. Only by my mother's quick action is he still alive today.
So, while you are thinking of perhaps buying Valentine's Day cards or gifts for that "special someone", please give some thought to protecting your own heart, possibly through lifestyle changes, exercise, perhaps a even a checkup at your doctor's, complete with some blood work to make sure your cholesterol is in good shape and your blood pressure is under control. High blood pressure is sometimes referred to as "the silent killer" because often you feel no symptoms, but it can most definitely put stress on your heart, and definitely can lead to heart attacks and strokes. I found out I had high blood pressure while in my early 30's, and don't make the mistake of thinking you are too young to have any of the health problems I have mentioned earlier. If you have a family history of heart disease, as I do, genetics can play a huge role in the possibility that you could also develop heart problems as well.
Women suffer from cardiovascular disease as often or more often than men do. If you are a female reading this, or if you care about a female in your life, please take a moment to REALLY TAKE IN THIS NEXT FACT-a woman dies about every minute from cardiovascular disease. That means that within one hour, a total of 60 women that you love, are related to or know could die within the next 1 hour, and that includes yourself if you are a female! If that doesn't get your attention, I don't know what else will. The chances of that truly happening in one person's life are astronomical, I admit, but I believe it is a good way to look at the statistics in a way to make them more than just numbers on a page to you. If I truly sat down and contemplated that happening in my life, to the women that I know and love, as well as the ripple effect it would have on all of the other families and friends of the victims, it is almost more than I can emotionally handle. It truly scares the hell out of me. So ladies, please take care of yourselves and spread the word. Self Awareness, just as in the fight against breast cancer, is our first line of defense. Be proactive with your health and not reactive! And above all, spread the word to the ladies in your life that you love and care about dearly.
Self Awareness and Symptoms
There are several symptoms of an oncoming or beginning heart attack or stroke. Many of you may know all of them, but it never hurts to be reminded. I am going to make a list of the majority of the usual symptoms, but if you are ever feeling "not right" and even suspect it could be heart related or a stroke, go IMMEDIATELY TO THE CLOSEST EMERGENCY ROOM AND GET CHECKED OUT!!! The most frequent and/or common symptoms are or can be either one or more of the following:
- Pain in the chest, especially if it radiates down either arm, into the neck or jaw, and ESPECIALLY IF IT IS A CRUSHING PAIN, ACCOMPANIED BY ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING -
- A feeling of shortness of breath, sometimes referred to feeling like "an elephant is sitting on your chest", "can't catch my breath" when you haven't even been exerting yourself (although don't ignore it, even if you have exerted yourself, but you are much more out of breath than you would usually be under the same circumstances)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Sudden, severe headache
- Blurry vision and/or slurred speech
- Sudden weakness or tingling or loss of use and/or coordination of face, arm(s), hand(s) fingers, or leg(s)
- Pain between the shoulder blades, accompanied by ANY of the above mentioned symptoms. Although this can be a lesser known or mentioned symptom, women often feel this symptom more so than men, and pass it off as stress or fatigue related. I had been having this particular symptom for about two weeks, to the point that I thought I had a pinched nerve or something like that, right up until I had my heart bypass surgery. It was then that I found out this was a symptom also, especially in women.
- Sudden leg pain or swelling, especially in the lower part of the legs. This can sometimes signal a blood clot
Finally, if you are experiencing prolonged leg pain in the lower part of your legs, especially, after walking, during mild exercise or while standing, it could be a condition known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), while another disease known as PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE (PVD) . This disease fefers to blood vessels outside the heart and brain, where the blood vessels in the extremeties, mostly the legs, become clogged with plaque. The symptoms for this are as follows:
- Leg pain that doesn't go away when you stop exercising
- Foot or toe wounds that won't heal or heal very slowly
- A marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot particularly compared to the other leg or to the rest of your body.
So, now that I have scared you half to death with all of this, which was NOT my intention, lol, please help me tospread the word to all you know and love, and educate them. Also, if you have any of the above mentioned problems, don't panic if you can help it. This only drives up the blood pressure and makes the heart have to work harder. Try to remain calm, and get to a hospital as quickly as possible, even if it means calling an ambulance. Remember, you have two of pretty much everything else in your body, but you only have one heart and one brain. TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM!
For more information, please visit the website, goredforwomen.org,(which is sponsored by the American Heart Association or visit the American Heart Association's website. And don't forget to wear something red not just on Valentine's Day, but on February 5th also, and help to spread the word for women's heart health!