Women and Heart Health

You’re playing hide and seek with your children. Suddenly, you’re short of breath, you have back pain and you’re sick to your stomach.

What’s happening? According to experts at the LifeBridge Health Cardiovascular Institute, you could be having a heart attack. Surprisingly, especially with women, intense chest pain is not always an indicator of an attack.

While cardiovascular disease is often thought of as a “man’s disease,” it is the number one killer of women, more than all cancers together, and the numbers are sobering.

More than 500,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, according to the American Heart Association. One in 2.5 women will lose their lives to heart disease, compared with one in every 30 women who will succumb to breast cancer. Therefore, women, and the people who love them, must be proactive in knowing the risk factors that can cause trouble.

While some heart attacks are sudden, intense and include chest pain, others start slowly, with mild pain or pressure that can disappear and return. Some women may not have any chest pain at all when having a heart attack. They may experience discomfort in the arm, back, neck or jaw. Other warning signs include shortness of breath, nausea and/or unusual and unexplained fatigue.

If you or someone you are with develops chest discomfort, especially with any of the other symptoms, call 9-1-1.

There are things in your control that you can do to try to prevent heart disease. According to the Cardiovascular Institute, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and trying to decrease your stress levels can be helpful. However, sometimes a family history makes you more prone to developing it through no fault of your own, so it’s especially important to see a cardiologist regularly.

In addition, there is a screening called calcium scoring which, along with other factors, can give you important information about plaque build-up in your arteries, which can slow the blood flow to your heart.

Keep your eyes on the Community Calendar on the LifeBridge Health website for information about heart screenings in your area.

For more information about the LifeBridge Health Cardiovascular Institute, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

-Helene King

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 866-404-DOCS.

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1 Response

  1. Dear Helene: I totally appreciate your data regarding the real numbers for heart attacks among women. As a Registered Nurse and health educator who has worked in telemetry for five years, I truly appreciate your shared information. In volunteering as a community Health educator in schools, and churches and other community events, I have traveled throughout Maryland and parts of Virginia teaching how to recognize signs of heart attack and stroke among men and women. I can tell you that there are still some wanting to take a "car" to the hospital. I spend my time emphasizing the importance of quick recognition of signs and prompt action in calling 911 as opposed to taking a car to the emergency room. I've also added the importance of keeping a current list of medications for EMS to bring to the ER with the patient. I'm hoping all our joined efforts will make a difference in the future to decrease current statistics for heart attacks among women. Thank you again for sharing such vital information.

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