Very few women realize that the greatest threat to their life and health at an advanced age is a heart disease more than any form of cancer or any other disease. To speak statistically, more women die of heart disease and heart attacks than American men each year, and heart problems pose a greater threat to American women than all forms of cancer combined. Added to it is the fact that because the symptoms of heart attack in women are very different from the symptoms in men, the delay in treatment often results in a loss of life. Here are a few tips which can be used by women to keep their heart healthy:
- Keep a regular check on your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. If you have a family history of heart disease, start annual checkups early.
- Do not hesitate to bring up your health concerned queries before your doctor or gynecologist. Ask for a thorough assessment of your heart disease risk factors: family history, cholesterol — especially LDL, HDL and triglycerides — glucose (blood sugar) levels, blood pressure, smoking history, weight, stress and exercise. Having a proper assessment will help you form a guideline to maintain healthy lifestyle.
- If you have one or more risk factors, ask your doctor or gynecologist if you should have an electrocardiogram (ECG) or exercise stress test.
- Look out for the symptoms of heart attack specific to women. Do not make the mistake of thinking the chest pain as the only symptom of heart attack. The general symptoms of heart attack which are associated with both men and women include Squeezing chest pain or pressure, Shortness of breath, Sweating, Tightness in chest and Pain spreading to shoulders, neck or arm. However, the symptoms associated mostly with women include Indigestion or gas-like pain, Dizziness, nausea or vomiting, Unexplained weakness, fatigue, discomfort/pain between shoulder blades, Recurring chest discomfort and Sense of impending doom.
- Make yourself clear about the medications or special instructions your doctor has given you. Ensure that you are regular with not only your medicines but also with your follow-up tests.
- Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats. Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Look for regular and mild exercises like walking, climbing stairs, etc. Maintain an active lifestyle. Keep your weight under control and lead a stress free life.
- Cigarettes are greatest enemies of heart. If you smoke, quit smoking now!!
- If you have the first sign of heart attack symptoms, take aspirin. Call 9-1-1 in case of emergency. Discuss this with your doctor.