What is the number one killer of women in the U.S.?
Only about one-half of the women who respond this question recognize that heart disease is the correct answer.
Are you surprised, too? Many would guess breast or ovarian cancer.
Women having heart attacks often present with much different signs and symptoms than men. While men often complain of shortness of breath and a crushing feeling in the chest and are observed to be perspiring, women may have none of these sensations but instead report a backache, nausea or just “not feeling right.”
Because of these vague symptoms and because many adults still believe heart disease is rare in women, a first heart attack is more likely to be fatal to women than men. If the people nearby a woman who is having a heart attack do not recognize what is happening, then they are less likely to call for emergency medical help.
The Mayo Clinic outlines strategies to help women prevent heart disease that leads to deadly heart attacks. Recommendations include:
- Don’t smoke.
- Be active 30-60 minutes daily.
- Eat heart-healthy.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Get quality sleep.
- Manage stress in healthy ways.
- Get regular screenings, including blood pressure and cholesterol.
This Valentine’s Day, do your heart a favor, and skip the chocolates.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.