February is American Heart Month – a great reminder for each of us to make sure we are on the right track to maintaining a healthy heart. Did you know that in 2010, residents in DC died at a higher rate from preventable heart attacks and stroke than any other state in the country? Most of us know that eating healthy and getting regular exercise is good for our hearts, but there are also some lesser-known steps we can take to keep our tickers going strong. Cardiologist Dr. Jannet Lewis, offers some important facts relating to heart health:
- Notice the signs - Many types of heart disease are in fact preventable with control of risk factors. Prominent among these are smoking, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. More than half of preventable deaths occur to those under the age of 65, it is never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes that will benefit you in the long run.
- Take action - Women often have signs of heart disease, and heart attack, which may differ from men. This may result in delays in seeking care and very importantly influence outcomes. Make an appointment with a cardiologist to learn how you can make small changes towards getting healthier. Whether it’s drinking more water, parking at a further spot, or skipping the elevator and taking the steps!
- Spread the word! Tell the people you love to know their heart risks, to seek care at the earliest signs or symptoms of heart disease and to get regular health check-ups. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in women in the United States. Awareness of heart disease risks is improving, but a significant lag still exists among minorities and younger women. Lack of awareness in men and women relating to cardiovascular health means that we often ignore symptoms and delay seeking medical care; which impacts outcomes.
The Women’s Heart Center aims to educate, support and inspire women to be proactive and increase awareness of cardiovascular disease in women. It offers a comprehensive risk assessment to identify a woman’s level of risk for heart disease and address her individual needs.
For more information on The GW Women’s Heart Center please click here, or call (202) 741-2323.
Jannet F. Lewis, M.D., F.A.C.C. is a Professor of Medicine and cardiologist in the Division of
Cardiology at The George Washington University Medical Center. She is Director of
Noninvasive Cardiology and Director of the GW Women’s Health Center.