Consulting Your Heart

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It can happen to your mother, to your daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, friends or even yourself. Every day, every minute, a woman in the United States will die from a cardiac arrest or stroke. According to the American Heart Society (AHA), about 500,000 women in this country will lose their lives every year because of a cardiovascular ailment. Most deaths occur in people under the age of 60, which health authorities regard as premature deaths.

The situation is even more worrisome when it comes to Hispanic women. The AHA claims that cardiac illnesses are the number one killer of Hispanic (Latinas) in the United States. In addition, medical studies has indicate that Hispanics are more likely to suffer heart failure 10 years before other women.

The alarming figures of the AHA has a lot of meaning in February, which is known as the American Heart Month in the USA, a time when it seeks to raise awareness at the national level about cardiovascular diseases in women.  You have to educate Latinas and make public knowledge that the number one killer of women is heart disease.

The AHA estimates that one in three Latinas have a problem associated with their heart, a higher incidence than non-Hispanic whites. In Hispanic culture there are many myths about cardiovascular diseases, especially among women. Despite being at great risk, only one in four Hispanics know the threat posed to them by heart disease.

Many mistakenly believe that cardiac illnesses are an exclusive problem for men, or that they occur only in older women like their grandmothers and moms. However, heart attacks can begin at a very early age — some have symptoms at 35 years — so they should recognize the signs and how to prevent them in time.

There is a myth in the Latino community that women do not suffer a lot from heart disease like  men does, and that has to do with the fact that in a man, cardiac problems begin 10 years earlier than in women and this has given the false belief that they are immune to heart problems. But the heart diseases are more aggressive and produces the same degree of mortality in both women as in men.

Another myth is that most people think, that breast and uterine cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes are the health problems that affect women the most, and they don’t imagine that heart attacks have become a serious threat to females.

According to experts, Hispanic females are affected in large percentages not because they are more genetically prone to suffer from these diseases, but because they do not visit a doctor often. No routine checkups are made for fear of not knowing how to speak English, because they do not have health insurance, have no legal documents to live in this country or because they prefer to take care of their family, rather than worry about their own well-being. So the main message for Latinas is to take control of their health, visit a doctor at least twice a year and make healthy lifestyle changes.

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