Monday, May 30, 2011

Heart Attacks Are the No. 1 Killer of Women

I recently read how heart attacks are the number one killer of women, which is something that I did not know.

Below I copied and pasted what I read about it, and you might find some of the warning signs to be surprising (i.e., "how are hearts are somewhat protected by estrogen.")  If you do not already know the warning signs of a heart attack, then knowing what to watch for could save your's or someone else's life.

"Women fret about the possibility of breast cancer. They worry about the potential of dementia.

They should be concerned about their hearts, because more women die of heart attacks than any other cause.

"It's true that our hearts are somewhat protected by estrogen, so studies show that our risks for attack increase after menopause. But we should be taking steps to care for ourselves at all ages," says Sherry Torkos, a Canadian pharmacist and fitness instructor. Torkos and Dr. Martha Gulati, a cardiologist and professor at Ohio State University, are co-authors of "Saving Women's Hearts" (John Wiley Publishing).

Question: You're going to tell me we should be proactive and heart healthy and that includes exercise, right?

Answer: Right. It's never too late to take steps toward a healthy heart. Aim for 10,000 steps a day. If you are sedentary, try to walk 10-15 minutes a day and gradually increase your time.

Q: Why don't women recognize symptoms of heart attack?

A: The warning signs can be different. There can be chest pain, but also pain around the shoulder, neck or jaw. It can be vague - like nausea and fatigue. Sometimes women dismiss the symptoms as "just not feeling well," so they delay getting treatment. That's partly why women are twice as likely to die as men in the first year after a heart attack and are less likely to survive their first heart attack.

Q: What's the difference?

A: In the first year, 42 percent of the women who suffer an attack die, as opposed to 24 percent of the men. We simply delay treatment. Dismiss our condition as "nothing significant." And often, once we do go to the emergency room, we are more likely to be investigated as having an emotional reaction as a heart attack. ... We also are less likely to be given the same standard of care medications or be referred to a cardiologist than men.

Q: What are the risk factors for women?

A: Stress in later life seems to have a greater impact, particularly job stress. Also extra weight ... and, of course, smoking. There is a big connection between a large midsection, or apple shape, to the body and more danger for a heart attack.

Q: So we exercise more and we lose weight. What else?

A: Supplements. Fish oil reduces multiple risk factors and lowers triglycerides. It also reduces inflammation and clotting. Cutting down on sodium. It's shocking how much salt is in the average diet.

Q: I have written before about my friend Nell Kenyon, 79, for whom swollen hands were the only sign of a massive heart attack. Nell says she never felt any pain.

A: That's not an untypical story. The answer for all women is to be empowered. Know the symptoms. Know the best lifestyle to avoid the number-one killer for women. You can beat the odds."