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Women can cut their heart attack risk with education


Q: What steps can I take as a 55-year-old woman to be more knowledgeable about heart disease prevention?

A: Wear red in February for American Heart Month to help raise awareness about heart disease affecting women and make a pledge to yourself to participate in specific health steps to work for better personal self-care and overall wellness.

I suggest that you register to participate in an affordable six-week series of Healthy Living classes specifically created for older adults who are living with a diagnosis of a chronic condition, including heart disease.

Call Pima County Public Health Nurse Janice Campos, a trainer for the Healthy Living classes, at 243-2869 to receive registration materials and pay a nominal fee of $6 per person or $10 per couple to participate in the classes. The entire schedule of evidence-based health promotion classes also is online at the Pima Council on Aging Web site at pcoa.org

Calculate Your Risk

Take a quick quiz to find out your risk for a heart attack. If you don’t know some of the answers, check with your health care provider. Answers are yes, no or don’t know.

• Do you smoke?

• Is your blood pressure 140/90 or higher?

• or, have you been told by your doctor that your blood pressure is too high?

• Has your doctor told you that your total cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL or higher OR that your HDL (good cholesterol) is less than 40 mg/dL?

• Has your mother or sister had a heart attack before age 65? OR has your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55?

• Do you have diabetes OR a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or higher OR do you need and take medications prescribed by your doctor to control your blood sugar?

• Are you over 55 years old?

• Do you have a body mass index (BMI) score of 25 or more?

• Do you get less than 30 minutes of physical activity on most days?

• Has your doctor told you that you have angina (chest pains), OR have you had a heart attack?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you’re at risk of having a heart attack.

Lower your risk of heart disease

Everyone can take steps to lower his or her risk of heart disease and heart attack. A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best tools you have to prevent or better manage heart disease. Many people make it harder than it is. It is important to remember that it is the overall pattern of choices you make that counts.

Know your BMI

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fat for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to problems or compound health conditions.

Be active

Be active for at least 2 1/2 hours per week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles.

Know the signs and act immediately

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 911. A person’s changes of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is given as soon as possible.

Ask questions

Getting accurate answers to core questions about heart health and disease, prevention and intervention for heart attacks will give you vital information about your own heart health and what you can do to improve your health.

Today’s information about women and heart disease prevention is provided by Adina Wingate, PCOA’s public relations director, using approved information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office of Women’s Health. Send questions to generations@tucsoncitizen.com

Pima Council on Aging

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