What’s the leading cause of death among women in Kentucky? It’s not breast cancer or car accidents. It is heart disease.For the last 27 years, deaths from cardiovascular disease in women have outnumbered those in men. According to the American Heart Association, in 2008 cardiovascular disease (CVD) claimed the lives of 419,370 U.S. women. That’s almost one death every minute, more than those from cancer, emphysema, Alzheimer’s disease, accidents, and diabetes combined. Compared to deaths from CVD, in 2008 all forms of cancer killed 270,210 women. Of that, breast cancer caused 40,589 deaths. Despite this, studies have consistently shown that breast cancer tops the list of women’s health concerns. While cancer is most certainly a significant danger, statistics tell another story: women also need to see heart disease as a major health threat.
In Kentucky, more than 4,800 women die each year from heart disease. And Kentucky women are at a much higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease than women in other states. That’s why it’s important to learn our heart disease risk as part of our annual wellness checkup.
What places a woman at high risk? Women with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes, as well as women who smoke, don’t exercise, or have a family history of heart disease have the highest chance of developing CVD. Lifestyle contributes significantly to the burden of heart disease in Kentucky, where nearly two-thirds of women are overweight or obese, and one-quarter of women smoke. In addition to traditional risk factors, cancer survivors and women who have experienced a high-risk pregnancy may also develop heart problems later in life. Lifestyle modifications, early intervention, and drug therapies are a few ways to reduce the possibility of suffering from CVD.
Knowing your risk for heart disease, making small lifestyle changes and following the American Heart Association “Life’s Simple 7” steps will ensure a longer, happier, and healthier life for you and your family.
Women in Kentucky should rally around the American Heart Association’s new national goal: By 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. To achieve this goal, we all should follow the organization’s “Life’s Simple 7” steps:
Maintain a healthy weight;
Engage in regular physical activity;
Eat a healthy diet;
Manage blood pressure;
Take charge of cholesterol; and
Keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.
—Info provided by the Women’s Heart Health Program at UK’s Gill Heart InstituteAt noon on Friday, Feb. 5, UK’s Gill Heart Institute will be “going red.” Dr. Gretchen Wells, director of the Women’s Heart Health Program, will offer tips for women’s heart health in the atrium of Pavilion A of UK Chandler Hospital. There will also be special treats, gifts, and take-home info. For more info, click here.UK’s Gill Institute also presents a Women’s Heart Health Talk at the Beaumont Public Library Large Conference Room at 6 pm on February 11. For more info, click here. This article originally appears on page 7 of the February 2015 printed issue of Ace.Subscribe to the Ace e-dition for Lexington news, arts, culture, and entertainment, delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.