It’s often a silent killer. It can come on without any chest pain or discomfort. Yet, more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. That’s why National Heart Month in February is a great opportunity to talk to women about matters of the heart.
Men and women must know the importance of heart health. Today, heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S. Right now, an estimated 44 million people in the United States are affected by cardiovascular disease. However, statistics show that only one in three of women will die of heart disease each year. It’s a dangerous statistic because women don’t often experience the same typical heart symptoms as their male counterparts. Less than a third of women in a recent survey reported early warning signs. Women need to realize, for them, the symptoms aren’t necessarily the same ones society associates with a heart attack. They don’t often experience the crushing, clenching chest pain like men do.
In general, women will experience some sort of discomfort in their chest though it may not be severe. Instead it is more likely that a woman will experience signs unrelated to chest pain. They may have discomfort in their neck, pain between their shoulder blades, or stomach. Shortness of breath as well as nausea and even vomiting can be related to a heart attack. Also, women may begin to sweat, feel lightheaded or dizzy, pain in their jaw and may experience an abnormal amount of fatigue.
Physicians play an important role in helping patients understand their risks and their symptoms. They can take action and encourage patients to be aware of their heart health. Loved ones can play a role by encouraging good heart health for their loved ones. With any disease, being proactive can and does save lives. That means understanding the symptoms, the risks and getting screened.
Just like they’re proactive with annual exams, men and women need to get screened for heart disease. Everyone should know their cholesterol levels, and if they qualify, get a heart screen. It could save their life. And, of course, you can be proactive in caring for their heart health by eating a healthy diet and exercising.
Take time this month to schedule an appointment with one of our providers for a blood pressure screening. Elevated blood pressure can be an indicator of an underlying heart disease. For more information, visit our website at www.pioneermemorial.org or call 605-326-5201 schedule your next appointment.
– Submitted by Pioneer Memorial Hospital