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Expert Elder Care Guidance
Expert Elder Care Guidance
My mom says women rarely have a heart attack. Is she right?
Sorry to say it, but your mom is very wrong on this one: Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States today, affecting one in nine over the age of 45. The statistic that should really get your mom’s attention is that heart disease affects one in three women by age 65. The risk is even higher for women who are overweight, smoke or have diabetes. Heart disease tends to strike women ten years later than men – after menopause – when female heart vessels are more prone to develop plaque.
Given these statistics, it’s important for older women to get a thorough physical, including a heart exam. A woman's heart attack can go unrecognized until it is too late. This is due partly to the public’s misconception that heart attacks are a “guy thing,” and because heart attack symptoms in women may might not include “classic” signs of a heart attack such as chest pains. The American Heart Association lists the following less-obvious heart attack symptoms that women may experience:
These heart attack symptoms are definitely worth paying attention to as nearly a half-million women die annually of heart disease in the U.S., and nearly 250,000 died from a fatal heart attack. One-third of women who have had a heart attack will have a second attack within six years – twice the rate experienced by men. The death rate from heart disease in African-American women is 70 percent higher than that of men, and heart disease is the number one killer of African-American women over the age of 25.
Heart disease can take a number of forms:
Preventing heart disease often requires lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising, eating heart-healthy diets and quitting smoking. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation launched an excellent “Working Hearts” campaign focusing on women called “Take Ten.” Women are urged to take ten minutes every day to do something healthy for their hearts – such as a short walk, taking the stairs rather than an elevator, parking a little farther from the mall, or getting up to answer the phone instead of keeping it right beside you – and another ten minutes to relax and lower blood pressure through activities such as reading, meditating, trying Yoga, praying, petting a dog or cat, or watching the sunset. Taking ten minutes here and there to focus on better heart health every day is great medicine for both the body and soul, the campaign says.
For more information about heart disease and other conditions affecting women visit womanshealth.gov or call their toll free number at 1.800.994.9662 (WOMAN). And check out the American Heart Association’s website at americanheart.org.
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