Thursday, November 15, 2012

Heart Disease: Women: Prevent a heart attack or stroke ... a few tips from a woman with genetic propensity for the disease

Women's medicine sometimes gets short-shrifted, but here's a disease and a spokeswoman that evens up the score, a bit, between general medicine (men's medicine) and women's medicine.

— Albert Gedraitis

Huffington Post (Nov15,2k12) — an excerpt

by Ellen Dongen

Women and the Prevention 

of Heart Disease

I am living proof that a heart-healthy lifestyle and the effective use of preventative medicines are as important as hereditary predispositions. Since that long-ago, life-shifting intervention by Dr. Denton Cooley, I have been proactive about my health.
Did you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States? In the United States, a woman suffers from a heart attack every 90 seconds.2 However, most of these heart attacks could be avoided if women made better heart-healthy choices such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and not smoking. After menopause, women are more at risk for developing heart disease partly because our bodies produce less estrogen. Women who go through early menopause either naturally or through medically induction (as a result of a hysterectomy or medication) are twice as likely to develop heart diseaseas women of the same age who have not yet gone through menopause. Make certain that you have a yearly physical that includes a heart-healthy screening. Your risks of heart disease may increase if you are overweight, smoke or if you have high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol levels or diabetes. To help understand your own personal risks of heart disease and what you can do to avoid it, reach out to your physician and discuss the following possible tests to evaluate your risks:
Know the symptoms of a heart attack for women, as they present differently than in men. They can be more subtle than chest pains. Women often have blockage not only in their main arteries, but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart. Take note of the following symptoms:
  • Unusual heavy pressure or weight on your chest
  • Sharp upper body pain in your neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting (Rosie O'Donnell's recent experience)
  • Sweating (cold sweats -- not like a hot flash)
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
What can you to do to be proactive about your health?
  • Do not smoke and stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Exercise -- find something you like: walk, bike, hike, play tennis. You name it -- just keep moving!
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies and fiber -- limit saturated fats, trans fats & sodium
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Maintain a healthy weight
Thanks to my experience with my father, I developed an early awareness of my cardiovascular health risks. This knowledge inspired me to a heart-healthy lifestyle. I also have continued to educate myself on the subject and have benefited from scientific breakthroughs in treatment and prevention. Because of this, I recently received a wonderful gift. I celebrated my 59th birthday.
Tell me: What's stopping you from living a heart-healthy lifestyle?
I love heart health!
  • 1The butter vs. margarine debate continues, but the current recommendation from the American Heart Association is soft, trans-fat-free spreads instead of regular butter or stick margarine.
  • Questions to ask your doctor
  • Learn more about heart health for women at Go Red for Women
  • Mayo Clinic gives heart health tips for women
  • AARP blogs about the #1 killer in women
  • 2Don't Miss a Beat, heart attack information for women from

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