Oh the pretty colors of the rainbow do make us smile and wish we could find that lucky pot of gold. These colors also represent awareness of health issues that affect women and men across the world. We see pink to educate us about breast cancer, purple for lupus, and blue for men’s health.
In February though, more women should be seeing red (and not because their husbands forgot to take out the trash), because the No. 1 cause of disability and death for women (and men, too) is heart disease.
On Valentine’s Day, as part of this month’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, the American Heart Association issued a new study predicting 131.2 million people – 45 percent of all Americans – will have cardiovascular disease by the year 2035. That statistic alone should motivate us all to get back on that treadmill, heck, it’s probably being used to hang clothes anyway.
Several myths can increase the risk of heart disease – and one is related to food. We have all heard that fat is the culprit for heart disease and that we should prescribe to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet to maintain a healthy heart.
However, recently it was discovered that the real danger to our hearts comes in a sweeter form…sugar. The research, linking sugar consumption to a higher risk of dying from heart disease, has led health advocates to rewrite their heart disease prevention guidelines. For instance, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day for most women. On average, Americans eat 22 teaspoons per day. (Put down that can of soda!)
Some other myths you should ignore:
- Myth: Heart disease is a man’s problem. Fact: For more than 30 years, more women than men have died of heart disease in the U.S.
- Myth: No need to worry- Hey I’m young. Fact: Primary risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) can afflict persons even in their 20s.
- Myth: Warning signs will alert me beforehand. Fact: Actually, most women suffering heart attacks experience no specific symptoms beforehand.
Learn the facts. Talk to your primary care physician about your heart disease risk.