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February is Heart Health Month

The Heart Truth campaign warns women about heart disease and provides tools to help them take action against its risk factors.

The Heart Truth

The campaign is primarily targeted to women ages 40 to 60, the time when a woman’s risk of heart disease begins to increase.

However, it’s never too early—or too late—to take action to prevent and control risk factors since heart disease develops over time and can start at a young age—even in the teen years.

And with lupus, a person needs to take even more steps to protect the heart because the disease by itself can sometimes cause inflammation and bad changes to this muscle.

A young women with lupus—under age 40—is almost five times more likely than her friends to have coronary artery disease, no matter whether she smokes, has high blood pressure or diabetes, is overweight, or has other habits or health problems that makes coronary artery disease more likely.

So, in addition to seeing your doctor regularly and always mentioning anything that feels different, such as shortness of breath or chest pains, as a person with lupus you can also do the following:

  1. Get clear instructions about the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke, and what to do if they appear.
  2. Help your doctor in detecting and treat lupus flares as early as possible.
  3. Take measures to stop other things that can damage the heart (smoking, high blood pressure, excess weight) with medicines and lifestyle changes.
  4. Get regular exercise (even a 30-minute daily walk helps!)
  5. Follow a healthy diet.

– from What Women Should Know About Lupus – The Heart, and other S.L.E. Lupus Foundation sources.

Read Lupus LA’s heart brochure
More about lupus and the heart

Also—from The Heart Truth, take a look at these tips and strategies:

What are the signs of a heart attack?

For both women and men, the most common sign of a heart attack is:

Women are more likely than men to have other common signs of a heart attack, particularly shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and pain in the back, neck, or jaw.

Did you Know? Heart disease disproportionately affects women of color. African American and Hispanic women in particular have high rates of the major risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

For more information, from Action Plans on the “Heart Truth” for Latinas, for African Americans, and for Women, as well as Heart Healthy recipes and more, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/materials/index.htm.

The Heart Truth is a national awareness campaign sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Partners include the Office on Women’s Health, WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease; the American Heart Association; and other organizations committed to the health and well-being of women.

Through the campaign, NHLBI leads the nation in a landmark heart health awareness movement that is being embraced by millions who share the common goal of better heart health for all women.

The campaign message is paired with an arresting visual—the Red Dress—designed to warn women that heart disease is their #1 killer.

The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of DHHS.

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