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Health & Medical

BEYOND TRIM: Ladies, guard your heart

Women need to wake up to the risks of heart disease

Before October gets here and even the pumpkins get a coat of pink paint, I thought it would be worth mentioning that heart disease kills more women every year than all forms of cancer combined.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, many women do not realize they are at risk. To raise awareness among women of the dangers of heart disease, it has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to sponsor a national campaign, “The Heart Truth.”

The goal is to give women a wake-up call about their risk of heart disease. Many do not realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and that having risk factors for heart disease can lead to heart disease, disability, and/or death.

Women’s risk of heart disease begins to rise between the ages of 40 to 60, and especially after menopause. Women of all ages need to pay attention, though, because heart disease develops gradually and can start at a young age.

Talk to your doctor about your heart disease risk factors and be proactive about addressing your lifestyle to prevent or control these risk factors. It’s important for all women to understand how they can take action. Here are several suggestions:

• Don’t smoke. If you do, find a way to quit. The Illinois Quitline can help. Go to quityes.org or call 866-784-8937.

• Stay active. Try not to sit for long periods of time and work up to walking or some other form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.

• Lose weight. Your waist size is a good indicator of your weight status. For women, a waist larger than 35 inches is a risk factor for heart disease.

• Know your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers. The CGH Health Foundation offers free local screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar several times a month, as well as a monthly cholesterol screening. Call me at CGH, 815-625-0400, or your local health care facility for schedules or more information.

Breast cancer gets a lot of attention, but when it comes to our health, we women should be paying more attention to what lies underneath.

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