Tue | Dec 6, 2016

'Go Red for Women' & fight heart disease

Published:Wednesday | April 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica this week observes 'Go Red for Women' with activities to increase women's awareness of heart disease and debunk the myth that it is a 'male disease'.

'Go Red for Women' is a global campaign giving women a personal and urgent wake-up call about the risk of heart disease. Knowing the common risk factors, signs and symptoms is the first step. Warning signs of heart disease in women include:

Chest pressure, pain or discomfort that comes and goes.

Pain localised to areas such as the arm, shoulder, jaw, stomach or back.

Shortness of breath in the absence of pain.

Nausea or passing out.


Women's risk factors

Before menopause, a woman's risk for coronary heart disease is lower than a man's but increases significantly after menopause. There is, however, an increasing prevalence of heart disease in women before menopause. The risk factors include:

Age: The older you get, the more likely you are to develop heart disease. Post-menopausal women are much more likely to develop the disease as their reduced oestrogen levels no longer provide natural protection.

Family history: Children of parents with premature cardiovascular disease are more likely to develop it themselves.

Previous heart disease or stroke increases the likelihood of future occurrences.

Smoking is a higher risk factor for heart disease in women than in men. Women who smoke are at two to four times more risk than men for a heart attack.

Physical inactivity nearly doubles the risk. Exercise can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

Diabetes increases the risk for stroke and heart attack. Women who have diabetes have twice the chance of having a heart attack than women who don't.

Elevated total cholesterol, low HDL (good cholesterol), and high triglycerides are telltale signs of heart disease. The HDL/LDL (bad cholesterol) ratio is extremely important in evaluating a woman's risk for heart disease.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) increases the likelihood of a stroke. Caribbean women are prone to higher blood pressure and are at higher risk for heart disease.

Excess weight and body fat, especially around the middle and waist, are dangerous. Obesity increases the strain on your heart and raises blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

Contact the Heart Foundation of Jamaica for more information; hfj@infochan.com, 28 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5.