(Washington, DC) – The DC Department of Health (DOH) encourages residents to be mindful of their hearts this February, in celebration of American Heart Month. February is traditionally associated with heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and bouquets of roses; but it is also the official month of heart disease prevention and awareness.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in this country, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. According to the American Heart Association, 43 million women in the US are affected by heart disease, and it is the cause of one in three women's deaths every year. In the District heart disease accounts for over 26 percent of all deaths. Since 1984, more women than men die of heart disease each year.
“There is a clear disparity in women suffering from heart disease in the District of Columbia, said Dr. Saul Levin, interim Director DC Department of Health. I urge every Washingtonian, men and women, to start making healthier lifestyle choices, by decreasing foods that are high in salt, trans-fat and sugar. Additionally, begin a exercise routine, rather its taking the stairs instead of the elevator, starting a walking club or taking advantage of the many District’s Department of Parks and Recreation classes and workout facilities,” he said.
Twenty-five to 50 percent of women don't fit male patterns for heart disease. Women having a heart attack, for example, don't always experience what men usually do, like chest pain associated with exertion. Instead, they may feel indigestion, chest pressure, shortness of breath, or fatigue.
DOH heart-saving facts and tips:
Get to Know the Risk Factors for Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Physical Inactivity
- Family History
- Alcohol and Drug Use
Although it is essential to know the risk factors of heart disease, it is also important for residents to be aware of their heart health numbers as well. Keeping track of important numbers such as weight, height, blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids, blood glucose and BMI will further develop personal knowledge of heart health, and allow you to be proactive about staying on top of future appointments associated with these heart health numbers.
DOH Heart Smart Decisions
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day
- Quit smoking
- Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine
- Decrease intake of soda and other sugary drinks
- Cook more meals at home, which gives more control over what goes into your food
- Give a “commitment card” - a card to your loved ones committing to a consistent plan for attaining and maintaining heart health and overall wellness
When trying to improve your heart health, DOH reminds residents that there is never a quick fix, but rather a lifestyle change that needs to be made to ensure lasting health benefits. The best way to maintain a healthy heart, weight, and lifestyle is by correcting poor eating habits, incorporating more physical activity, and by taking full control of your health and wellness plan one day at a time.