Did you know that the NUMBER ONE cause of death in American women today is heart disease? With the higher-than-ever demands of women's professional, social, and family lives, it's tempting for women (men too!) to put their own health needs last. After all, it'll never happen to you ... right?
The American Heart Association released the following short film inspired by true stories of women who have suffered heart disease in hopes of educating others about the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular distress. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, who also stars in the short film, "Just a Little Heart Attack" sends a powerful message that's crucial for all of us, woman or man, to hear: despite the seemingly all-important demands of our lives, our heart health needs to come first.
According to the American Heart Association, the most common symptoms of heart attack include:
- Chest pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away within a few minutes, or goes away and comes back again
- Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath and dizziness
- Sweating and feeling lightheaded or nauseous
If you experience these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Women are more likely than men to experience abnormal symptoms other than chest pain, which can be misleading. Women who have had heart attacks often report thinking they had the flu or ate something that disagreed with them when their symptoms began.
Luckily, heart disease is preventable. Here are some tips we should all follow to keep our tickers in tip-top shape:
- Talk to your doctor about your own personal risk factors for heart disease. Also check out the AHA's Heart Attack Risk Calculator.
- Quit smoking. Your risk of heart disease decreases by a whopping 50% just one year after quitting.
- Take time out to exercise. Simply walking 30 minutes a day can make a big difference in your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Watch what you eat, particularly when it comes to saturated and trans fats. Check out some fun and helpful infographics here.