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Being heart healthy

February is National Heart Health Month. For decades, the words “heart disease” have stricken fear into the hearts of women for the men in their lives. Turns out we should have been even more concerned for ourselves, our mothers, sisters and girlfriends.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, greater than all cancers combined. One out of three women will die from heart disease, approximately one woman every minute. That bears repeating and thinking about — one out of three women will die of heart disease, approximately one woman every minute! Here’s our wake-up call, women and men. We are in this together. 

So, you may ask, what can you do?  First of all, know the signs of a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association the warning signs of heart attack are:

• Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

• Shortness of breath: with or without discomfort.

• Other signs may include 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 more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. 

Second, take action. Many women (men are guilty of this too) discount symptoms of heart attack, chalking it up to the flu or acid reflux. If you are in doubt enough to take an aspirin, you need to call 911. Minutes matter, so don’t wait. In this situation it’s much better to have a false alarm than become one of the numbers in heart disease statistics.

Third, start now to protect your heart. You have the power within you to combat heart disease. Eat a healthy balanced diet, get physical exercise, watch your weight and manage your stress.

Betty Ramsey is the publisher of The Farmville Herald. Her email address is Betty.Ramsey@FarmvilleHerald.com