By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Right now our friends at the American Heart Association, the Atlanta Chapter, are gearing up for one of the biggest events of the year: the Atlanta Heart Walk September 26 at Centennial Park.
The company I founded and run, VeinInnovations, will be there again this year, as we have been for the last four years, in force, to support the AHA’s work to raise awareness about the prevalence and warning signs of heart disease and stroke, and to promote walking as a natural, handy, reasonable way to increase heart health and decrease the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
This event is wildly successful, in large part because it is a lot of fun! Last year some 15,000 people walked; this year, AHA predicts there will be between 15,000 and 18,000 walkers.
We all know someone whose family has been affected by heart disease. The widower whose wife’s heart attack came out of the blue, stunning family and friends with searing loss. The families watching as a loved one’s heart grows weaker with each passing day, as they hope and pray for a transplant. The parents who’ve lost children and children who’ve lost parents – to heart attack or stroke.
Family members such as each of these, and thousands more, will be walking with us September 26 to spread the word: Some heart disease can be prevented. Early diagnosis saves lives. A walk in the park is a great defense against America’s Number 1 Killer of Women.
From the American Heart Association, here are some important myths to dispel about heart disease:
Myth: Heart disease is for men, and cancer is the real threat for women
Fact: Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease claims the lives of one in three. That’s roughly one death each minute; more than 1400 women die of heart disease each and every day.
Myth:Heart Disease is for old people
Fact: Heart disease affects women of all ages. For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent. And while the risks do increase with age, things like overeating and a sedentary lifestyle can cause plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life. But even if you lead a completely healthy lifestyle, being born with an underlying heart condition can be a risk factor.
Myth: Heart disease doesn’t affect women who are fit
Fact: Even if you’re a yoga-loving, marathon-running workout fiend, your risk for heart disease isn’t completely eliminated. Factors like cholesterol, eating habits and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and have high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. And while you’re at it, be sure to keep an eye on your blood pressure at your next check-up.
Myth: I don’t have any symptoms
Fact: Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Because these symptoms vary greatly between men and women, they’re often misunderstood. Media has conditioned us to believe that the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.
Fact: Although women with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, there’s plenty you can do to dramatically reduce it. Simply create an action plan to keep your heart healthy.
Because of healthy choices and knowing the signs, more than 670,000 of women have been saved from heart disease, and 300 fewer are dying per day.
How can you support the effort, and help the women you love?
Come walk with us! Here’s the link to register. VeinInnovations will be there, providing free screenings for the condition we treat: chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which causes painful, hurting, restless legs, varicose and spider veins, and likely contributes to many people opting out of healthful exercise because their legs hurt. Also – let us screen your legs for CVI, as VeinInnovations surgeons and physicians and referral partners are donating $1 each (up to $250 per physician) for every adult we screen. So each adult screened represents a $6 donation to the AHA!
We’ll be joined by other health experts and scores of corporate donors who will give you breakfast, take your photos, load you up with all manner of rewards for walking, and in general cheer you on for joining us all on a beautiful September morning to remember the people we’ve lost due to heart attack and stroke, and to work toward reducing the number of heart attack and stroke victims going forward.
It’s a step worth taking. I look forward to seeing you there.