There are a few things you probably don't know about heart disease, especially how it affects women.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women, but until recently, as Dr. Karen Latimer explains, cardiac issues were thought to be a men's health problem. The truth is that more women die from heart disease than men. In fact, one in four women die from heart disease.
Dr. Latimer explains that the stigma surrounding heart disease and the lack of awareness of its symptoms exacerbates the issue. "When you think heart attack, most people think crushing, severe chest pain," the physician asserts. "Women have a tendency to downplay our symptoms, ignore our symptoms, suffer in silence and we end up receiving treatment later....sometimes too late."
According to Mary C. Collins, an advanced practice nurse in cardiology, part of the problem is that women's symptoms are often more subtle than men's. Many women will wait out their symptoms instead of seeking help, and for those that do seek help, they are often met by healthcare providers who don't associate women with heart disease.
The best protection is knowing what to watch out for. Women's symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in the upper chest
How can you lower your risk for heart disease? Here are the most important things you can do:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise about five times a week
- Know your personal risks