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A Heart Healthy Holiday:

Valentine's Day Brings National Heart Month

February is more than just the month of chocolates, roses, and Valentine's Day: it is National Heart Month including February 17th as Women's Heart Health Day. Unfortunately, eight million women are living with heart disease in the U.S., and 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks: a number six times greater than deaths from breast cancer. While heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, the majority of heart disease research studies have been on men, which has led to a lack of awareness on how the disease can effect men and women differently.

Men and women have similar risk factors. However, for heart disease and heart attacks. High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes increase a person's risk, for heart disease, whether male or female. These conditions are often influenced by unHealthy behaviors such as tobacco use, a fatty diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake. In addition, a family history of the condition can increase one's risk.

Even with these similar risk factors, men and women are effected by heart disease differently. The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest discomfort, but oftentimes, women may not identify their chest pain as being symptomatic of a heart attack and delay or avoid seeking medical care. The importance of understanding and identifying the symptoms of a heart attack, as well as seeking early treatment, is invaluable to your Health and may very well save your life.

Symptoms You Need to Know:

1. Chest discomfort or pain: Chest pain does not need to be intense or obvious. It can feel more like pressure or squeezing, and oftentimes will go away and come back after several minutes.

2. Upper body discomfort: This can include pain or discomfort in the jaw, stomach, back, neck, or one or both arms.

3. Shortness of breath.

4. Nausea and/or lightheadedness.

*Women tend to be more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain compared to men.

What You Need to Do Always:

Maintaining a Healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent heart disease in both men and women. Staying active, eating a balanced diet low in saturated fat, maintaining a Healthy weight, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and getting regular checkups will all help to keep your heart Healthy.

What You Need to Do Immediately:

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately and call 9-1-1. Delaying treatment increases chances of fatality and further damage to the heart.

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