February often brings with it thoughts of heart-shaped candies and heart-themed décor for Valentine’s Day, but more importantly, it should make you think about your heart health too! February is American Heart Month, which is meant to bring about awareness for heart disease, the leading cause of death in men and women in the U.S.
Who is most at risk for developing heart disease?
Heart disease continues to be a leading cause of death in both men and women, yet, women tend to underestimate their risk. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease causes 1 in 3 deaths in women each year.
Don’t let misinformation prevent you from taking charge of your health; here are some common myths about heart disease in women.
Risk Factors for Developing Heart Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are some of the leading risk factors for developing heart disease, and you may be surprised to know that 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor:
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol use
- Family history of heart disease
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
Heart Disease and Your Eyes
Did you know that you have two secret weapons you’re born with that can help you manage your health for a long time? Your eyes, of course! At least three of the risk factors mentioned above can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam.
That’s because comprehensive eye exams provide the only non-invasive view of blood vessels and the optic nerve. As a result, eye doctors can detect early signs of chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes before any healthcare provider. One study found that eye doctors were the first to identify signs of diabetes 34 percent of the time, high blood pressure 39 percent of the time, and high cholesterol 62 percent of the time.
Thankfully, your eye doctor can help spot early signs of heart disease during a comprehensive eye exam.
Make your annual appointment with your eye doctor today.
Updated February 8, 2018 by Angelina F., Original post by Laurel G.