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THE HEART TRUTH ® for

Women

THE HEART TRUTH FOR lATINAs:

TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT YOUR HEART

The Heart Truth ® : Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women of most ethnicities in the United

states. It is also a leading cause of disability among women. Among latinas, heart disease is the second

leading cause of death, after cancer. latinas also have high rates of some factors that increase the risk of

developing heart disease, such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, and physical inactivity.

But there’s good news too: You have the power to protect your heart and lower your risk for heart disease.

This fact sheet will help you find out your personal risk for heart disease. Then, it will show you how you

can take steps to improve your heart health and lower your chances of developing heart disease.

WHAT Is HEART DIsEAsE?

Coronaryheartdisease(CHD)isthemost

commonformofheartdisease.Usuallyreferred

tosimplyas“heartdisease,”itisadisorderof

thebloodvesselsoftheheartthatcanleadto

aheartattack.Aheartattackusuallyhappens

whenanarterybecomesblocked,preventing

oxygenandnutrientsfromgettingtotheheart.

Ifbloodflowisn’trestoredquickly,thesection

ofheartmusclebeginstodie.

Anothertypeofheartdiseaseiscoronary

microvasculardisease(MVD),whichaffects

thetinycoronary(heart)arteries.Incoronary

MVD,thewallsoftheheart’stinyarteriesare

damagedordiseased.Studieshaveshown

thatwomenaremorelikelythanmentohave

coronaryMVD.Manyresearchersthinkthe

diseaseiscausedbyadropinestrogenlevels

duringmenopausecombinedwithtraditional

heartdiseaseriskfactors.

Itisimportanttoknowthatheartdiseaseisa

lifelongcondition—onceyougetit,you’llalways

haveit.What’smore,theconditionofyourblood

vesselswillsteadilyworsenunlessyoumake

changesinyourdailyhabits.That’swhyitisso

vitaltotakeactionnowtoprotectyourheart.


DO YOU HAvE RIsK FACTORs

FOR HEART DIsEAsE?

Riskfactorsareconditionsorhabitsthat

increasethechancesofdevelopingadisease

orhavingitworsen.Havingoneormorerisk

factorsdramaticallyincreasesawoman’s

chanceofdevelopingheartdiseasebecause

riskfactorstendtoworseneachother’seffects.

Therearetwotypesofheartdiseaserisk

factors—thoseyoucan’tchangeandthose

youcancontrol.Tworiskfactorsthatcannot

bechangedareafamilyhistoryofearlyheart

diseaseandage(forwomen,agebecomes

ariskfactorat55).Also,preeclampsia,a

conditionthatcanoccurduringpregnancy,is

linkedtoanincreasedlifetimeriskforheart

disease,includingCHD,heartattack,heart

failure,andhighbloodpressure.

Followingahealthylifestylecanhelpyou

preventorcontrolmanyCHDriskfactors.Why

doesyourlifestylematter?Becausemany

heartdiseaseriskfactorscanbecontrolledby

makingchangesinyourlifestyleand,insome

cases,bytakingmedication.Majorriskfactors

thatyoucandosomethingaboutinclude

(checkallofyourriskfactors):

o

o

smoking. Smokingisthemostpowerful

riskfactorthatwomencancontrol.

Smokingtobaccoorlong-termexposure

tosecondhandsmokeraisesyourriskfor

CHD,heartattack,andstroke,aswellaslung

cancerandotherseriousdiseases.Smoking

candamageandtightenbloodvessels,lead

tounhealthycholesterollevels,andraise

bloodpressure.Smokingalsocanlimithow

muchoxygenreachesthebody’stissues.

High blood pressure. Normalbloodpressure

islessthan120(systolic)overlessthan80

(diastolic)mmHg.(ThemmHgismillimeters

ofmercury—theunitsusedtomeasureblood

pressure.)Womenwhohavebloodpressure

greaterthan120/80mmHgareatincreased

riskforCHD.Bloodpressureisconsidered

highifitstaysatorabove140/90mmHg

overtime.Ifyouhavediabetesorchronic

kidneydisease,highbloodpressureis

definedas130/80mmHgorhigher.

o

MENOPAUsAl HORMONE THERAPY

AND HEART DIsEAsE PREvENTION:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Inthepast,manypostmenopausalwomen

wereprescribedmenopausalhormonetherapy

tohelppreventheartdisease.Menopausal

hormonetherapycaninvolvetheuseof

estrogenplusprogestinorestrogenalone.

Researchnowshowsthatestrogenplus

progestintherapyincreasesthechancesof

developingheartdisease,stroke,bloodclots,

andbreastcancer.Italsodoublestherisk

fordementiaanddoesnotprotectwomen

againstmemoryloss.Researchonestrogenalonetherapyshowsitincreasestheriskfor

strokeandbloodclotsbuthasnoeffecton

heartdiseaseandcolorectalcancer,andan

uncertaineffectonbreastcancer.Estrogen

alonegivesnoprotectionagainstmemory

loss.Ifyouareonthismedicationtoprevent

heartdiseaseoranotherchroniccondition,

suchasosteoporosis,talkwithyourhealth

careprovideraboutotherapproaches.

Ifyouaretakingorconsideringestrogen

plusprogestinorestrogenalonetorelieve

menopausalsymptoms,consultwithyour

healthcareprovideraboutwhetheryou

shouldstartorcontinuethetreatment.Ifyou

decidetogoaheadwithit,usethelowest

doseforasbriefofaperiodaspossible.

Also,neitherestrogenplusprogestinnor

estrogen-alonetherapyshouldbeusedto

lowercholesterol.Talkwithyourhealthcare

provideraboutanalternativecholesterolloweringmedication.

High blood cholesterol. Highblood

cholesterolisaconditioninwhichyouhave

toomuchcholesterolinyourblood.By

itself,theconditionusuallyhasnosignsor

symptoms—somanywomendon’tknow

thattheircholesterollevelsaretoohigh.A

bloodtestcalledalipoproteinpanelisused

tomeasureyourcholesterollevels,shownin

milligrams(mg)ofcholesterolperdeciliter

(dL)ofblood.YourriskforCHDincreases

2


o

o

o

o

ifyouhaveatotalcholesterollevelgreater

than200mg/dL,anLDL(“bad”)cholesterol

levelgreaterthan100mg/dL,and/oranHDL

(“good”)cholesterollevellessthan50mg/dL.

Atriglyceridelevelgreaterthan150mg/dL

alsoincreasesyourriskforCHD.Awoman’s

HDLcholesterolandtriglyceridelevels

predictherriskforCHDbetterthanhertotal

cholesterolorLDLcholesterollevels.

Overweight/obesity. Overweightandobesity

areseriousproblemsforLatinasandLatino

families.Beingoverweightorobesecanraise

yourriskforCHDandheartattack.Thisis

mainlybecauseoverweightandobesityare

linkedtootherCHDriskfactors,suchashigh

bloodcholesterolandtriglyceridelevels,

highbloodpressure,anddiabetes.

Physical inactivity. Comparedwithnon-

HispanicWhiteandAfricanAmerican

women,Latinasarelesslikelytobe

physicallyactive.Beingphysicallyactive

canreduceyourriskforCHDandstrokeby

20–35percent.Alackofphysicalactivity

canworsenotherCHDriskfactors,such

ashighbloodcholesterolandtriglyceride

levels,highbloodpressure,diabetesand

prediabetes,andoverweightandobesity.

Unhealthy diet. Anunhealthydietcanraise

yourriskforCHD.Forexample,foodsthat

arehighinsaturatedandtransfatscanraise

yourLDLcholesterollevel.Ahigh-sodium

(salt)dietcanraiseyourriskforhighblood

pressure.Foodswithaddedsugarsandfats

willgiveyouextracalorieswithoutnutrients,

suchasvitaminsandminerals.Thiscan

causeyoutogainweight,whichraisesyour

riskforCHD.Toomuchalcoholalsocan

causeyoutogainweight,anditwillraise

yourbloodpressure.

Diabetes and prediabetes. Diabetesisa

diseaseinwhichthebody’sbloodglucose

(sugar)levelistoohigh.Thisisbecause

thebodydoesn’tmakeenoughinsulin

(ahormonethathelpsbodycellsabsorb

glucoseandturnitintoenergy)ordoesn’t

useitsinsulinproperly.Youaremorelikely

todevelopthisdiseaseifyouareoverweight

o

o

(especiallywithextraweightaroundyour

middle),physicallyinactive,orhaveafamily

historyofdiabetes.Type2diabetes—the

mostcommonformofthedisease—isa

seriousproblemforLatinofamilies.

Prediabetesisaconditioninwhichyour

bloodsugarlevelishigherthannormal,but

notashighasitisindiabetes.Prediabetes

putsyouathigherriskforbothdiabetesand

CHD.Diabetesandprediabetesraisetherisk

forCHDmoreinwomenthaninmen.

Metabolic syndrome. Metabolicsyndrome,

alsocalledinsulinresistancesyndrome,isa

groupoftraitsandmedicalconditionslinked

tooverweightandobesitythatputspeople

atriskforbothCHDandtype2diabetes.

Preeclampsia. Thiscondition,whichdevelops

duringpregnancy,islinkedtoanincreased

lifetimeriskforheartdisease,includingCHD,

heartattack,andheartfailure.Ifyouhad

preeclampsiaduringpregnancy,you’retwice

aslikelytodevelopheartdiseaseaswomen

whohaven’thadthecondition.You’realso

morelikelytodevelopheartdiseaseearlier

inlife.Preeclampsiaisaheartdiseaserisk

factorthatyoucan’tcontrol.However,if

you’vehadthecondition,youshouldtake

extracaretotryandcontrolotherheart

diseaseriskfactors.

Otherconditionsandfactorsalsomay

contributetoCHD,including:

Sleepapnea,acommondisorderinwhich

youhaveoneormorepausesinbreathingor

shallowbreathswhileyousleep.Untreated

sleepapneacanincreaseyourriskforhigh

bloodpressure,diabetes,andevenaheart

attackorstroke.

Stress,whichcancauseyourarteriesto

narrow.Thiscanraiseyourbloodpressureand

yourriskforaheartattack.Researchshows

thatthemostcommonlyreported“trigger”

foraheartattackisanemotionallyupsetting

event,especiallyoneinvolvinganger.

Alcohol—heavydrinkingcandamagetheheart

muscleandworsenotherCHDriskfactors.

3


TAKE ACTION TO

PROTECT YOUR HEART

Find Out Your Risk

Toprotectyourhearthealth,itisimportantto

findoutyourpersonalriskforheartdisease.Be

awarethateveryriskfactorcounts.Ifyouhave

evenoneriskfactor,youaremuchmorelikely

todevelopheartdisease,withitsmanyserious

consequences.Havingmorethanoneriskfactor

isespeciallyseriousbecauseriskfactorstend

to“gangup”andworseneachother’seffects.

Fortunately,youhavetremendouspowerto

preventheartdisease,andyoucanstarttoday.

Thefirststepistoseeyourhealthcareprovider

forathoroughcheckup.Tellyourhealthcare

provideryouwanthelpinachievingyourgoal

ofhearthealth.Anddon’thesitatetoask

questions,includingthoseonpage6.

MAKE CHANgEs FOR A

MORE HEAlTHY lIFE

Setrealistic,specificgoalsforahearthealthy

lifestyle—foryouandyourfamily.

Actonyourgoals—takeonestepatatime.

Involveyourfamilyintakingstepsforamore

healthylife.Settimestoplanandcookhealthy

dinnerstogether,asafamily.

Figureoutwhat’sstoppingyoufrommaking

orstickingtohealthylifestylechanges.

Keepingarecordofyourdailyfoodintakeand

physicalactivitymayhelpyouidentifybarriers

andinspireyoutoreachyourgoals.

Don’tgiveup—getbackontrackwhenyou

slipup.

Rewardyourselfforthegainsyou’vemade—

withsomethingyouliketodo,notwithfood.

Makeaplantomaintainyourfamily’shealthy

lifestylechanges.Createnewfamilytraditions

ofhealthymealsandfunactivitiesthat

encourageregularphysicalactivity.

Nowyou’rereadyforaction.Inmostcases,that

meansfollowingahearthealthyeatingplan,

gettingregularphysicalactivity,maintaininga

healthyweight,andnotsmoking.Somewomen

alsomayneedtotakemedicationtocontrol

heartdiseaseriskfactors.

Gloria's Story

Gloriainheritedaloveofdancefromherfather,and

at61,shehasn’trelinquishedherpassion.Although

herfatherpassedawayfromastrokeafteryearsof

battlinghighbloodpressureanddiabetes,dance

iswhatkeepsGloria’sheartstrong.Knowninher

communityforherhealthandpositivespirit,Gloria

teachesNicaraguanfolkdancingatherchurchand

helpscareforhertwobelovedgrandchildren.Every

morningbeginswithstretchingandmeditationas

shepreparesforanewday.

4


Kick the smoking Habit

Thereisnothingeasyaboutgivingupcigarettes,

butwithaplanofaction,youcandoit.Become

awareofyourpersonalsmoking“triggers”—the

situationsthattypicallybringontheurgeto

lightup—andreplacethemwithnewactivities.

Eathealthfully,getregularphysicalactivity,and

askfriendsandfamilyforsupport.Youalsomay

wanttoparticipateinanorganizedprogram

tohelppeoplequitsmoking,offeredbymany

hospitals,healthorganizations,andworkplaces.

Also,severalmedicationsarenowavailableto

helppeoplestopsmoking.Askyourhealthcare

providerwhetheryoushouldtryanyofthese

medications.

Eat for Health

Youcangreatlyimproveyourhearthealth(and

yourfamily’s)byeatinghealthfully.Puttogether

aneatingplanforyouandyourfamilythat

offersthebalanceofcaloriesthatisrightfor

you,includingvegetables,fruits,wholegrains,

andlow-fatorfat-freedairyproducts.The

numberofcaloriesyouneedeachdaydepends

onyourageandhowphysicallyactiveyouare.

Addseafood,leanmeats,poultry,beans,eggs,

andunsaltednutsforprotein.Limitsaturated

andtransfats,sodium(salt),andaddedsugars.

Grill,steam,orbakeinsteadoffryingandflavor

withspices,notsauces.

learn New Moves

Regularphysicalactivityisapowerfulway

tokeepyourhearthealthy.Aimforatotalof

2hoursand30minutesofmoderate-intensity

aerobicactivityeachweek—spendingatleast

10minutesatatime.Thislevelofactivitycan

reduceyourriskforheartdiseaseandyour

chancesofdevelopingotherriskfactors,

suchashighbloodpressure,diabetes,and

beingoverweight.Otherlifestylebenefits

includeprovidingenergy,reducingstress,and

buildingconfidence.Makephysicalactivitya

familyaffair—choosefunactivitiesthatyoudo

togetheroften.

Aim for a Healthy Weight

Ifyouareoverweight,takingoffpoundscan

directlyloweryourchancesofdeveloping

heartdisease.Evenasmallweightlosswill

helploweryourriskforheartdiseaseand

othermedicalconditions.

Whenitcomestoweightloss,therearenoquick

fixes.Lastingweightlossrequiresachange

oflifestyle,whichincludesadoptingahealthy,

lower-calorieeatingplanandgettingregular

physicalactivity.Aimtolosenomorethan1to2

poundsperweek.Ifyouhavealotofweightto

lose,askyourhealthcareprovider,aregistered

dietitian,oraqualifiednutritionisttohelpyou

developasensibleplanforgradualweightloss.

High Blood Pressure and the DAsH Eating Plan

Ifyouhavehighbloodpressureorhigh

normalbloodpressure,youcanhelplower

itbyadoptingtheDASHeatingplan.DASH,

whichstandsfor“DietaryApproachestoStop

Hypertension,”emphasizesfruits,vegetables,

wholegrains,andfat-freeorlow-fatdairy

products.Itisrichinpotassium,calcium,and

magnesium,aswellasfiberandprotein.Itislow

insaturatedandtransfatsandlimitsredmeat,

sweets,andsugar-containingbeverages.Salt

(sodiumchloride)andotherformsofsodium

affectbloodpressure.Youshouldconsumeno

morethan2,300mgofsodiumaday—1,500mg

perdayisevenbetter.IfyoufollowtheDASH

eatingplanandcutdownonsodium,youwill

getevengreaterbloodpressurebenefits.

High Blood Cholesterol and the TlC Program

IfyouneedtoloweryourLDLcholesterol,

youmaywanttoconsideraprogramcalled

TLC,whichstandsfor“TherapeuticLifestyle

Changes.”TheTLCprogramcallsforincreased

physicalactivity,weightcontrol,andaspecial

eatingplan.OntheTLCeatingplan,you

shouldhavelessthan7percentofyourday’s

caloriesfromsaturatedfat;nomorethan

25–35percentofyourdailycaloriesshould

comefromallfats,includingsaturated,trans,

monounsaturated,andpolyunsaturatedfats;

lessthan200mgofdietarycholesterolper

day;andjustenoughcaloriestoachieveor

maintainahealthyweight.Ifcholesterolloweringmedicationsareneeded,they’re

usedwiththeTLCprogramtohelplower

yourLDLcholesterollevel.

5


THE HEART TRUTH ®

The Heart Truth ® (www.hearttruth.gov),sponsoredbytheNationalHeart,Lung,andBloodInstitute

(NHLBI),partoftheNationalInstitutesofHealth,isanationaleducationprogramforwomenthatraises

awarenessaboutheartdiseaseanditsriskfactorsandeducatesandmotivatesthemtotakeactionto

preventthedisease.

ThecenterpieceofThe Heart Truthisthe Red Dress ® ,whichwascreatedbytheNHLBIandintroduced

asthenationalsymbolforwomenandheartdiseaseawarenessin2002. The Red Dress ® isapowerful

redalertthatinspireswomentolearnmoreabouttheirpersonalriskforheartdiseaseandtakeaction

toprotecttheirhearthealth.

QUEsTIONs TO AsK YOUR

HEAlTH CARE PROvIDER

Gettinganswerstothesequestionswillgiveyou

vitalinformationaboutyourhearthealthandwhat

youcandotoimproveit.Youmaywanttobring

thislistofquestionsandthelistofheartdisease

riskfactorsyoucheckedoffinthisfactsheetto

yourhealthcareprovider’soffice.

1. Whatismyriskforheartdisease?

2. Whatismybloodpressure?Whatdoesitmean

forme,andwhatdoIneedtodoaboutit?

3. Whataremycholesterolnumbers?(These

includetotalcholesterol,LDL,HDL,and

triglycerides.)Whatdotheymeanforme,

andwhatdoIneedtodoaboutthem?

4. Whataremy“bodymassindex”(BMI)and

waistmeasurement?DotheymeanthatI

needtoloseweightformyhealth?

5. Whatismybloodsugarlevel,anddoesit

meanI’matriskfordiabetes?Ifso,whatdoI

needtodoaboutit?

6. Whatotherscreeningtestsforheartdisease

doIneed?

7. Whatcanyoudotohelpmequitsmoking?

8. HowmuchphysicalactivitydoIneedtohelp

protectmyheart?

NHlBI REsOURCEs

NHLBIwebsite:www.nhlbi.nih.gov

The Heart Truthwebsite:www.hearttruth.gov

HealthTopics,whichprovidesscience-based,

plain-languageinformationrelatedtoheart,

lung,andblooddiseasesandconditionsand

sleepdisorders:www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/

health-topics/by-alpha

DeliciouslyHealthyEatingWebpages,which

featurehealthyrecipes,tools,andcooking

resources:healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov

NHLBIHealthInformationCenter:

Email:NHlBIinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov

Phone:301–592–8573

JoinfansofThe Heart Truthon

Facebooktopledgeyourcommitment

tolivingahearthealthylifestyle.

www.facebook.com/hearttruth

FollowThe Heart TruthonTwitter.

www.twitter.com/thehearttruth

FindThe Heart TruthonPinterest.

www.pinterest.com/thehearttruth

9. What’sahearthealthyeatingplanforme?

10. HowcanItellifImaybehavingaheartattack?

IfIthinkI’mhavingone,whatshouldIdo?

NIHPublicationNo.14-5065

OriginallyprintedFebruary2003

RevisedJuly2006,August2013,June2014

The Heart Truth,itslogo,Red Dress,andThe Red Dressare

registeredtrademarksoftheU.S.DepartmentofHealthand

HumanServices(HHS).

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