Today (Friday) is Go Red For Women Day, where people wear red to raise awareness about cardiovascualr disease in women. KVCR's Benjamin Purper speaks with Loma Linda University Health cardiologist Purvi Parwani in this report.
You might think of heart attacks as a men’s issue. But statistically, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women.
Parwani: “What we know is, over the last ten years we have decreased the deaths due to cardiovascular disease in women by more than like 30 percent and that is because of the advances in medicine and technology. But even with this much of incredible progress, almost every third woman still dies of heart disease and that is definitely more than all the cancer combined.”
Dr. Parwani says there are tell-tale signs of heart disease that should alert women that they need to be checked for it.
Parwani: “And those atypical symptoms, it can be just neck pain or jaw pain or feeling dizzy or just nausea, just not feeling yourself, especially when you're at risk of having heart disease. Or, you know, back pain, or fainting, or just breaking out in cold sweats which is very common in women. Or an inability to sleep or unusual fatigue. Like yesterday you were able to do everything and suddenly today you don't have energy to do anything. Stuff, symptoms like that.”
Dr. Parwani has a few tips for how to prevent heart disease in the first place. One is exercise.
Parwani: “Exercise, exercise, exercise. So be physically active. What we know from multiple studies is that even if you do anything, that's better than doing nothing. So 10,000 steps, 30 minutes every day, even if you do 5 minutes of exercise every day, that counts. Than, you know, not doing anything. So be physically active.
The next is diet.
Parwani: “Be aware of what you're putting in your body. So diet is a very important factor. So generally there is a lot of media around diet and it seems like a lot of my patients, they're always confused about what to do, but I tell them simple things, you know. More colors on the plate when it comes to veggies, and less color with meat. So avoid the red meat. And you know, if you have to have something, probably once or twice a month, but choose fish and lean cuts of meat and avoid red meats. And when it comes to grain, avoid any processed refried beans or processed grains, but more of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, daily. Avoid any extra calories in soda.”
Lastly, Parwani advises women to manage their stress levels.
Parwani: “So having a stress reduction technique that works for you, we know that stress affects women way more than it affects men. So having a stress reduction technique that you have figured out yourself, practice that everyday, it can be meditation, it can be prayer, it can be deep breathing. Something that works for your body.
By doing all these things, along with not smoking or drinking, women can drastically lower their risk of heart disease.
Parwani: “By doing all those things they have 92 percent, they lower the risk of getting cardiovascular disease almost by 92 percent.”
You can learn more about Go Red For Women Day at goredforwomen.org.