The Hearts of Women
February 15, 2007
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, matters of the heart are on many people's minds. While we tend to think that heart disease affects mostly men, new research is finding that older women should have just as much concern. Listen, as Dr. Mom shares HER heart on the matter.
February is typically known for love and is often symbolized by hearts. Isn't it appropriate that Women's Heart Day and Go Red For Women are also celebrated during the Month of Love?
Heart disease kills almost 500,000 women per year, one-half million women; more than 10 times as many women that die from breast cancer. Historically, heart disease has been considered a major health problem for the male sex. However, studies show that women are 15% more likely than men to die of a heart attack and two times as likely to have a second heart attack within the six years following the first attack. Women are not treated as aggressively as men after a heart attack; and, women are less likely to be on statins or ACE inhibitors or beta blockers, all of which reduce the risk of a second heart attack.
Facts & Figures:
- Only 13% of women view heart disease as a health threat, even though it is women's #1 killer
- Approximately 1 woman per minute dies from cardiovascular disease
- Coronary heart disease is the # 1 single killer of women over age 26
- 64% of women who died suddenly of coronary heart disease had NO previous symptoms
- Stroke is the # 3 cause of death for American women, and is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability
Risk Factors You Can Control:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort
- Other signs: these may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
(Women are more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO to help reduce your risk of heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- Smoking. If you smoke, your risk of developing coronary heart disease is 2 to 4 times that of nonsmokers.
- High Cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity or being overweight; excess body fat around the waist
- Diabetes, especially if your blood sugar is not controlled
- Get your annual heart health check up
- Get physical - step, march or jog in place for at least 15 minutes every day. Increase your activity by five minutes each week until you get a minimum of 30 minutes a day.
- Get those extra pounds off; drop your waist circumference to less than 35" and your body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 to 24
- Get your daily 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of veggies every day; choose healthy diet of fish, nuts, whole grains, legumes, poultry, lean meat, and low-fat dairy items.
- Get your total cholesterol level less than 200 mg/dL
- Cut back on your salt intake
- Quit smoking
Since February is the month of Love, make sure you and your loved ones are heart healthy.