With less than a week left of February, national Heart Awareness Month is nearing its end.
But we hope everyone takes with them the messages put out this month, long after the calendar page changes, the events are over and fewer women are wearing red.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and there are steps to take to reduce the risk. Those steps are also healthy lifestyle choices that men would benefit from as well.
Most importantly, know the symptoms of a possible heart problem or attack. These are different for men and women.
While both can experience painful chest pressure during a heart attack, the signs for women are often more subtle, including dizziness, shortness of breath, being lightheaded or fainting, upper back pressure and extreme fatigue. Some women think they have the flu.
Make sure to exercise, or at least move more often, and try to eat a balanced diet. For those who struggle with this, small changes can make a big difference.
Start with a 10-minute walk and build up. Just 30 minutes of walking a day lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Stop smoking. According to the American Heart Association, one year after you stop, your risk of coronary heart disease drops 50 percent.
Make healthy substitutions in your diet. When preparing chicken, opt for the breast, which is leaner, rather than legs or thighs. When preparing pork or red meat, get the cuts labeled "loin" or "round," which have less fat.
For recipes that require eggs, use two egg whites in place of a whole egg and when possible use low-fat versions of milk, yogurt and cheese.
And lastly, see your doctor to discuss your risk for heart disease.