(WIBW) - Health officials are using National Women’s Health Week to encourage women to take their heart health to heart.
“Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the number one cause of death for women in Kansas,” said Roderick Bremby, KDHE Secretary. “Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, being overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet.”
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two of the most important risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 Kansas women (28.7 percent) have doctor-diagnosed hypertension and about 38 percent of women have high cholesterol among those who have had a cholesterol test. However, these conditions often go unnoticed so the true prevalence of high blood pressure and high cholesterol may be higher.
Some populations have a higher risk for hypertension or high cholesterol. For example, Kansas women with disabilities are twice as likely as Kansas women without disabilities to have hypertension. African-American women are also at high risk for hypertension. It is important to have blood pressure and cholesterol checked frequently.
You can reduce high cholesterol by eating a healthy diet and participating in regular physical activity. You can reduce your blood pressure by eating a healthy diet low in sodium, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use.
“Salt is a culprit that makes your blood pressure go up and high blood pressure dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and stroke,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of Health at KDHE. “Don’t look at your salt shaker as the sole offender of sodium intake. According to the American Heart Association, up to 75 percent of our sodium intake comes from processed foods such as tomato sauce, soup, condiments, canned foods and prepared mixes.”
There are some simple tests you can take to know your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that you work with your healthcare professionals to monitor and maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure
“When you know your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, you can set goals that reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke,” said Dr. Eberhart-Phillips. “And, even if your cholesterol levels are good now, it's not too early to develop healthy habits that can help keep your numbers in check.”
For more information on heart disease and stroke in Kansas, visit .
For more information on National Women’s Health Week, visit