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November is National Diabetes Month. In the United States, about 30 million people are living with diabetes. Another 84 million members are pre-diabetic.

If you have diabetes, you have a higher-than-average risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. While men and women generally have similar rates of Type 2 diabetes, women are twice as likely to have heart disease.

In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., killing one woman every 60 seconds. It’s the leading cause of death for African American and white women and, among Hispanic women, it causes as many deaths as cancer each year.

Two-thirds of women who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms. Women are more likely than men to have the following heart attack symptoms:

  • Pain in the neck, jaw, abdomen or back
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

More than 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Women of all ages can get heart disease. While the risk gets higher with age, lifestyle, diet, smoking and hereditary conditions can increase a younger person’s risk.

Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity

If you have a family history of heart disease, there are still steps you can take to lower your risk. Below are some important steps women can take to reduce their risk of heart disease:

Know your risk factors; have your blood pressure checked regularly, along with your cholesterol and triglycerides

Stop smoking

Eat healthy, including lean proteins such as white meat chicken and lean ground beef, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Find ways to relax more and lower your stress level

Get moving and exercise more.

If you are a woman who has diabetes, it’s very important to keep your blood sugar within the range recommended by your doctor. If you don’t know how to manage your blood sugar, make an appointment with a health care provider to get more information on keeping your diabetes under control.

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