Women & Heart Disease

There are more women, living in this country, with heart disease than ever before recorded.  It is the leading cause of death in women, even surpassing breast cancer, in the United States.

Here are the facts:

1.  More than forty two million women live with some form of cardiovascular disease.

2.  Over eight million women have a history of heart attack or angina.

3.  More than four hundred and thirty two thousand women die from cardiovascular disease each    .
     year.
4. Over two hundred thousand women die from heart attacks.

5.  More than one hundred fifty nine thousand women die from Congestive Heart Failure each year in
     the United States.

We ask, "Why is cardiovascular disease so prevalent in women today?"  Well, there are many reasons for this malady.  Most women today have too many responsibilities put on them.  Women between the ages of thirty and fifty, work full time jobs, many times they are the main bread winner of the family.

Women work long hours, filled with stress, anxiety and tension.  They, also, are chief cook and bottle washer, the housekeeper, the laundress and their kids primary transporter. Women never stop to make time for themselves.  Mostly because there isn't any time left at the end of the day.  Also, because women tend to put themselves last, after the job, the kids, the house and the husband.

What most women don't know, is that the symptoms for a heart attack are different in women than in men.  Because of this, they tend to brush off the symptoms, thinking it's just stress and anxiety.

Let's take a look at the symptoms of a heart attack in women:

1.  One third of all women have no chest pain during a heart attack.  They may have experienced flu-
     like symptoms, two to four weeks prior to any chest discomfort.

2.  Chest pain may feel like a pressure, a tightness or squeezing sensation or fullness in the chest.       Also, she could feel that her heart is rapidly pounding.

3.  Upper body pain may be experienced including, the shoulders, arms, neck, back teeth and jaw
     areas.

4.  Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting may develop.

5.  You may feel over anxious or panicky, with sweating, weakness and overly tired.  This may
     resemble a panic attack.

6.  You may be dealing with shortness of breath, light headed, panting, taking deep breaths or feeling
     dizzy and faint.

These are the common symptoms, but sometimes it happens so suddenly, that women don't pay attention to what they're feeling.  Women today need to be more involved with their own health.  They need to take better care of themselves, make time for themselves, and rest more.

Every woman needs to be pro-active with what's going on with their own bodies.  Cardiovascular disease is at a critical level in the US today.  There are many forms of this affliction, ranging from heart attacks, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, ventricle fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, murmurs, valve replacement and many, many others.

We need to set aside some time every day to do something that relaxes us.  Perhaps sit down and read a book, take fifteen quiet minutes to enjoy a nice cup of hot tea or take a long hot tub bath.  Whatever you choose, make sure it's at least fifteen to twenty minutes, alone, in a quiet place.

I'd like to share some of the things that will put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.

1.  Cigarette smoking increases your risk by two to three times.

2.  High cholesterol needs to be kept in check.  Change your eating habits and take medication if
     necessary.

3.  Physical activity is very important to your health.  Stay active!

4.  Overweight women run a higher risk for heart problems.

5.  If you have diabetes, you are two and one half times more likely to have a heart attack.  Make
     sure you keep your diabetes under control, always.

Knowing all this will not keep you from having cardiovascular disease, but it certainly will help you
to identify the symptoms if you do.  Always stay alert to the things your body is telling you.  Never, ever, think it's just not important!  You matter, therefore your health should be number one on your 'to do' list.  I know because I have chronic congestive heart failure.  I know how very precious my life is to me.  So, should you!

Susan Lapp-Mellott, Cardiovascular Patient.

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