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February spotlights women's risk of heart disease

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TWC News: February spotlights women's risk of heart disease
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KERNERSVILLE - Eight million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease and more women die from it each year than from all forms of cancer combined. February is Heart Healthy Month and health educators say there are steps women can take to lower their risk.

The statistics are sobering. Nine out of every 10 women in the U.S. have one or more risk factors for heart disease.

"It takes them awhile to get to the doctor,” said Casie Pegg, a health educator for Novant Health. “They put it off and put it off because they are the caregivers and they look after their children and their families and, you know, if they're having an ache or pain they just push it to the side."

Major causes of heart disease include stress, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

"High cholesterol can really create a lot of plaque in women in their carotid arteries and form blockages,” said Pegg. “That's going to make you have a stroke or a heart attack."

The good news is that 80 percent of heart disease in women can be prevented. Food choices figure prominently.

"You want half of your plate to be fruits and vegetables,” Pegg said. “Then, a fourth of your plate needs to be your lean protein and we highly recommend fish. Your salmon, tuna and your mackerel. That's great for your cholesterol."

Exercise is a must.

"Thirty minutes for five days a week," she said.

Pegg said women should listen to their bodies.

"Please, take the time to get checked out and talk to your doctor,” she said. “Really know your numbers from here on out for your blood pressure and cholesterol. It could save your life."

Pegg said women can get a personalized risk assessment at Forsyth Medical Center and Kernersville Medical Center for only $25. To register, they can call (336)277-1880 or go to womensheart@novanthealth.org.

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