Women & Heart Disease

Dec. 30, 2016 at 12:27pm

Lessons from Carrie Fisher

The recent tragic deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds has surfaced two issues: 1) the prevalence of heart disease in American women, and 2) the impact of stress in triggering a cardiovascular event. This blog is about women and heart disease. A future blog will look at “dying from a broken heart,” a phrase being used to describe Debbie Reynolds death.

Many women assume that heart disease was a “man’s problem.” In truth, it is an equal opportunity affliction. Indeed, female hormones do provide some protection during childbearing years, but they simply result in the disease being delayed in women (compared with men), but not circumvented. Women in general have heart attacks some ten years later than men.

Men may develop the first signs of heart disease at ages 35 to 40. Men aged 30 to 49 are 6.5 times more likely to have a heart attack than women in that age group. The condition doesn’t usually affect women until a decade of more later. Between ages 45 to 64, one out of nine women has heart disease. Over age 65, the ratio is one out of three – about the same as men.

The fact is that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! It is the leading cause of death among American women. In fact, more women die from cardiovascular disease than from the next 14 causes of death for women combined.

Heart disease has been diagnosed in almost as many women as men. In the United States, more than 38 million women are living with cardiovascular disease, and the population at risk is even larger. According to Dr. Lori Mosca of Columbia University, more women than men die every year of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. So, if you are a woman, here are steps that make sense to me:

  1. See your physician regularly. Make sure that it isn’t just a “bikini exam” (gyno and breasts), just examines cardiac health as well.
  2. Understand that cardiovascular disease is preventable and manageable with positive lifestyle habits. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke or be around secondary smoke. Manage your stress. Have a positive outlook.
  3. Know the signs of a heart attack. Often they are different from those of men. Among the most common heart attack symptoms are pain, pressure or a sense of fullness under the breastbone. Men often say the pain feels like “having an elephant on my chest.” The pain is usually sharp and radiates to their arms and shoulders. Women generally experience a less sharp radiating pain to the shoulders, neck, arms, back of abdomen. Women have complained of lower back pain or a tooth ache only to find out is was a heart attack.
  4. If you have symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 and seek immediate medical help. Many experts recommend that while you are waiting for medical help, chew and swallow one regular uncoated adult aspirin (325 mg.)

Posted in Health Info by Joe

Comments (1)

I read a few of your books years ago and they were great! I lowered my fat intake and tried to follow some of your recommendations. My dad and I used to walk together, but then we quit walking and then he passed away. I didn't get back into walking and exercise. Over the ensuing years I put on a lot of pounds. I recently was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I'm sure much of it has to do with too much estrogen produced by fat cells. You can bet now I want to really watch my eating, eat healthier and excercise! Unfortunately for many of us, we don't make changes until we are diagnosed with cancer or heart disease!
1 | Left by Jo | Dec. 30, 2016 at 2:06pm

Name: Remember me
Comment: *   No HTML, http:// will auto-link
* required    Comment Guidelines