February – the month of love. Do you know what else needs some love? Your heart! February is indeed American Hearth Month, which is a great time to learn about heart disease. About 600,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is one in every four deaths. Heart disease continues to be the number one killer (or “cause of death”) of both women and men in the United States, but simple lifestyle changes can help you protect yourself from this disease.
Heart disease is an umbrella term used for any type of disease that affects the heart. These diseases develop over time. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which can cause heart attacks. Symptoms include angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms, when the blood vessels in your body are narrowed. (3) Women experiences chest discomfort differently than men. See signs of a heart attack for women.
There are many contributing factors to heart disease including high blood pressure, high LDL (a.k.a. “bad”) cholesterol, and smoking. Some medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also increase risk for heart disease, such as diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption. (2)
For a long time, Japanese Americans had a lower risk of heart disease – however, that has been changing. According to a study done in 2010 using the National Institutes of Health grants, Japanese Americans were more obese and had much higher rates of diabetes and heart disease compared to Japanese living in JapanSome of the reasons may include that Japanese Americans are more likely to adopt Western culture behaviors such as diet (which includes more meat and less dietary fiber), and physical inactivity. (1)
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
“Love Your Heart: Take Steps to Reduce Heart Risks”
“Heart-Healthy Diet: 8 Steps To Prevent Heart Disease”
Support to Quit
(1) American Heart Association (2010). CVD in Asian Americans: Are There Disparities and Are They Important? Retrieved from http://my.americanheart.org/professional/ScienceNews/CVD-in-Asian-Americans-Are-There-Disparities-and-Are-They-Important_UCM_432564_Article.jsp
(2)Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
(3)Mayo Clinic (2013). Heart Disease Symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20034056
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