American Heart Month to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - February 2 is National Wear Red Day, established to raise awareness that cardiovascular diseases, which includes stroke, claim the life of a woman every 80 seconds. But about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be prevented. So, wear red on Feb. 2 and help to share the message.

Macy's is the national founding sponsor of the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women, raising $65 million since 2004. Go Red For Women® is a nationwide campaign inspiring and igniting women to take action for better heart health. The good news is that heart disease and stroke may be prevented by understanding your family health history, knowing your numbers and making simple lifestyle changes. The five critical health numbers all women should know are:

Total cholesterol
HDL cholesterol
Blood pressure
Blood sugar
Body mass index (BMI)

National Wear Red Day is also the American Heart Association's national giving day. Follow the hashtag #WearRedandGive to make a donation to support the American Heart Association's mission to end cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology in November released new hypertension guidelines. It was the first update to comprehensive U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003. In the new guidelines, the category of prehypertension is eliminated, but high blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement. That is a change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher, reflecting complications that can occur at those lower numbers. While about 14 percent more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure and counseled about lifestyle changes, there will only be a small increase in those who will be prescribed medication. By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

The lifestyle prescription that physicians will suggest to the majority of patients who weren't previously diagnosed with hypertension, but now are under the new guidelines, include: physical activity, healthy diet following the DASH dietary pattern, weight loss, reduced sodium (salt) consumption, enhanced intake of dietary potassium, and moderation of alcohol consumption (In individuals who drink alcohol, reduce alcohol to: Men: <2 drinks daily; Women: <1 drink daily)

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