Heart disease kills one in three women each year – that’s approximately one woman every minute.
Heart disease, including stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. People of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities can have a heart attack or stroke. However, certain groups—African-Americans, people between the ages of 40 and 60, and women—are at higher risk.
Caregivers, Women, here are more facts:
- Stroke is the fourth leading causes of death in the US
- Americans suffer more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes each year,
- 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease on a daily basis
- Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of disability in our country—keeping more than 3 million people from enjoying the quality of life, they would like.
The scary thing is – Many of the people who are at high risk for heart attack or stroke do not know it.
- Caregivers exhibit exaggerated cardiovascular responses to stressful conditions which put them at greater risk than noncaregivers for the development of cardiovascular syndromes such as high blood pressure or heart disease. 1
- Women providing care to an ill/disabled spouse are more likely to report a personal history of high blood pressure, diabetes and higher levels of cholesterol. 2
- Women who spend nine or more hours a week caring for an ill or disabled spouse increase their risk of heart disease two-fold. 3
For caregivers, the impact of providing care can lead to increased health care needs for the caregiver.
- In 2005, caregivers reported chronic conditions (including heart attack/ heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis) at nearly twice the rate of noncaregivers (45% versus 24%).4
- In a 2009 survey, 17% of caregivers reported feeling that their health had become worse as a result of caregiving.5
- Atherosclerosis, which develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Heart failure or congestive heart failure, which means that the heart is still working, but it isn’t pumping blood as well as it should, or getting enough oxygen.
- Arrhythmia or an abnormal rhythm of the heart, which means the heart is either beating too fast, too slow or irregularly. This can affect how well the heart is functioning and whether or not the heart is able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
- Heart valve problems can lead to the heart not opening enough to allow proper blood flow. Sometimes the heart valves don’t close and blood leaks through, or the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse into the upper chamber, causing blood to flow backward through them.
What can we all do?
- Educate: Learn your family history, how to prevent heart disease and stroke in your family by understanding the risks
- Exercise: Get up and get active by exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week
- Do you know your ABCS? Appropriate Aspirin Therapy, Blood Pressure Control, Cholesterol Management, and Smoking Cessation.
- Healthy Diet: Eating a heart-healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol
- Take control of your heart health by following your doctor, nurse and/or pharmacist instructions for medications and treatment
Are you part of any heart saving organizational activities, campaigns, seminars and/or any clinical preventive practice and community prevention programs?
Thanks to Heart Truth’s awesome infographic on this topic. Share it with a sister, your mom, girlfriend, your nanny, your community and colleagues. You can save a life.
Caregivers and Heart Health Sources
- King, A.C., Oka, R.K., Young, D.R. Ambulatory blood pressure and heart rate responses to the stress of work and caregiving in older women. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 1994, 49: 239-245.
- Shaw, W.S., Patterson, T.L., Ziegler, M.G., Dimsdale, J.E., Semple, S.J. & Grant, I. Accelerated risk of hypertensive blood pressure recordings among Alzheimer’s caregivers. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 1999, 46: 215-227.
- Lee, S.L., Colditz, G.A., Berkman, L.F., & Kawachi, I. Caregiving and risk of coronary heart disease in U.S. women: A prospective study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2003: 24: (2), 113–119.
- Family Caregiver Alliance. (2006). Caregiver health. [Fact Sheet] San Francisco: Author.
- National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2009, Nov.). Caregiving in the U.S. 2009. Washington, DC: Author.
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