The scariest letter today for women is not A.
H for health, especially heart health.
And the American Heart Association wants today to be a red-letter day. Actually, the organization wants it simply to be a red day, as in red attire. Feb. 2 is Wear Red Day.
The AHA and the health care community hope that the site of thousands of people across the country decked out in red this Friday will help increase awareness of heart disease and encourage women to live more heart-healthy lifestyles and seek appropriate medical treatment.
The scary fact is that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Yeah, we see a lot of those pink ribbons, and breast cancer still is a major medial concern for women.
But the cold, hard medical data indicate that my mother, my aunts, my cousins, my friends, my neighbors and I are all more likely to succumb to heart disease. It strikes one in three American women; breast cancer affects one in 30. This chart shows how some common medical conditions compare.
A good guide to beating heart disease is the Healthy Heart Handbook. It includes warning signs of imminent medical danger (i.e., a heart attack; many women suffer them and don't even realize it!), questions to ask your doctor, self-help steps you can take to reduce your chances of heart disease and much more.
Guys, you can read it, too. That way you can be on the lookout for symptoms and turn the nagging table on the lady in your life when she needs to take better care of herself.
Medical help from the IRS: Obviously, medical treatments, including those to treat heart disease, are deductible if they meet the itemization threshold of 7.5 percent.
Several things can help you reach that threshold, such as a physician-prescribed weight loss program (obesity is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which leads to heart disease). If you have to drive quite a distance to see a heart specialist, that mileage is deductible, too.
If you're heart healthy, good for you! You can still help others fight heart disease and get a tax break, too, by contributing to the American Heart Association. It won't do you any good on your 2006 return, due here in a couple of months, but it'll count toward next year's itemization total.