Heart Health

Treat your ticker right.

Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Sadly, most people don't notice the symptoms of heart disease until it's too late, which is why it's been called the "silent killer." No longer are we silent in the face of this condition, though.

Women have been fighting heart disease individually and together as part of the Go Red For Women movement since 2004. Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association's national initiative, created by and for women, that's dedicated to uncovering the truth about women and heart disease. And we've made a difference! More than 627,000 lives have been saved. But the fight is far from over. Using the American Heart Association's research and resources, Go Red For Women educates and connects hundreds of thousands of women and offers tools to help women make life-saving choices.

Here's what it means to Go Red:

G: Get your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.

O: Own your lifestyle. Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy. It's up to you.

R: Realize your risk. We think it won't happen to us, but heart disease kills one out of three women.

E: Educate your family. Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.

D: Don't be silent. Tell every woman you know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women. Raise your voice at www. goredforwomen.org. The more women we mobilize, the more lives we can save.

Women who Go Red are more likely to make healthy choices. More than one-third of them have lost weight, and nearly 50 percent have increased the frequency of their exercise. Sixty percent of the women who decided to Go Red changed their diets, and one-third of them have discussed developing heart-health plans with their doctors.

Your heart is truly in your hands. Learn the risk factors for heart disease that you can control, and make heart-healthy choices to reduce these risks. High blood pressure can increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and it usually has no symptoms. Make sure to discuss it with your doctor, and also maintain a healthy diet. High cholesterol is another issue to tackle. The higher your total blood cholesterol, the greater your risk of coronary heart disease. You can take steps to lower your levels by losing unnecessary weight and limiting your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

Smoking cigarettes increases your risk for heart disease two to four times that of nonsmokers. It is the most preventable risk factor. Women with diabetes, too, have two to four times higher death rates from heart disease as compared to women without diabetes. Talk to your healthcare professional about any family history of diabetes.

Physical inactivity also increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, and work with your doctor to determine and maintain your healthy weight. Being obese or overweight is another risk factor. More than 149 million American adults are overweight, and 75 million of them are obese.

Aside from the ones mentioned, there are other risk factors of which a woman should be aware. Talk to your doctor about how age, race, and heredity may affect a person's risk for heart disease. Eighty percent of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise, and abstinence from smoking.

Did you know?

  • An estimated 43 million women in the United States are affected by heart disease.
  • 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and are often silent, hidden, or misunderstood.