You might think that heart disease is a man’s problem. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer among women. Even breast cancer claims fewer lives. That’s why you need to take action to keep your heart healthy - and lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Key Steps to Better Heart Health

  • Get regular medical checkups. Your doctor can check for factors that raise your risk of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and others. If you have any of these factors, your doctor can advise and treat you to reduce your risk.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. For example:
    • If you smoke at all - quit now. Women who smoke are 2 to 6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmoking women.
    • Exercise regularly - at least half an hour every day. Physical inactivity raises your risk of heart disease.
    • Make good food choices, like those described on pages 16 and 17.
    • Reach a healthy weight - and stay there.
    • Take your medications just as your doctor tells you to.
  • GET EMERGENCY CARE. Call 911 right away if you have any of the heart attack or stroke warning signs listed below.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

  • Chest discomfort. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, for example in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs, such as a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Warning Signs of a Stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Additional Resources

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