Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day (hope you all had a good one!) , you might have already figured out this is not going to be about protecting your heart in the area of LOVE. (For that advice, I hand the reigns over to a relationship expert like Alisa Bowman, and her popular blog, Project Happily Ever After.)
Instead, since February also happens to be the month that celebrates heart HEALTH, I’m here to write about that.
Heart disease is not just a man’s problem – it strikes men and women in equal numbers. In fact, over 400,000 women a year lose their lives to the disease. That’s huge – more than the next three causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.
It stikes someone about every 34 seconds.
And since women don’t always associate certain signs and symptoms with a heart attack or cardiac event, they’re 15 percent more likely than men to die of a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Unfortunately, they’re also twice as likely to suffer a second heart attack in the first six years following the first.
And that extra protection our hearts get from estrogen? Say goodbye to it after menopause.
Death rates are declining for men, yet rising for women. Why? One reason may be that women are more likely than men to be a). under-or mis-diagnosed or b). undertreated.
And the reasons for that? Here are a few:
For so long, heart disease was thought of as a “man’s” disease.
Symptoms for women can be different than for men.
Women may be dismissed by doctors/hospital personnel and instead told they’re “anxious” or suffering from another so-called condition, like indigestion or the flu.
The American Heart Association lists these warnings of heart attack signs in women:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you have any of these signs, don’t delay! Call 911 immediately – even waiting as little as 5 minutes can have negative consequences – and get to a hospital right away.
And one of the best medicines for preventing heart disease?
Walk, run, skip, stand up, take the stairs instead of the elevator, dance, park your car far from the entrance.