Today’s Editorial June 20: Heart disease and women

Years ago, heart disease was thought to affect mainly men. No one should think that anymore.

The fact is some 16.7 million people in the world die of cardio-vascular disease each year, and 8.6 million – more than half of the deaths – are women.

By the year 2020, it is estimated that 26 million people will die of heart disease each year, which will represent about 40 per cent of all deaths in the world.

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s Red Dress Affair held at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman last Wednesday aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of heart disease in women.

About two-thirds of women who have heart attacks never have any symptoms beforehand.

Age is one risk factor of heart disease than cannot be controlled. Reaching the age of 55 increases a woman’s chances of getting CVD. Family history is another risk factor that cannot be controlled.

But there are a lot of other risk factors that can be controlled through lifestyle choices.

Smoking increases ones risk of heart disease, as does high blood pressure, high cholesterol, having diabetes and being overweight.

All of those things can be countered with lifestyle choices. For instance, simply stopping smoking will decrease your risk for heart disease significantly.

Many of the risk factors can also be attributed to diet and lack of exercise.

Eating a diet low on saturated fats and cholesterol and high in fresh vegetables will not only help you lower your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, but will help you lose body fat, both of which are risk factors for heart attacks

Getting regular exercise, even if it’s just walking briskly for 30 minute very day, helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight, lower your cholesterol, and lower your risk for diabetes.

Women, especially those between the ages of 40 and 60 should consult with their doctor about their individual risk factors for CVD.

Dr. Edward Peron, who spoke to the attendees of the Red Dress Affair said women often underestimate the danger of CVD and some might believe that surgery is the cure for heart disease.

It isn’t.

However, CVD can be avoided through preventative lifestyle choices and we hope all the women of Cayman – and the men that love them – are taking note.

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