I read in this month’s Reader’s Digest that current statistics from the World Health Organization show that heart disease and stroke kills as many women as men. It also says that women are losing the war against heart disease as women who have heart disease are more frequently misdiagnosed. Only 35% of women with heart disease have the typical symptom of angina. The tendency for women to be older when they develop heart trouble; women develop heart trouble about seven to ten years later in their lives then men, results in a higher mortality rate for them than men. At this older age, women are more apt to suffer from additional health problems such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis that can complicate recovery.
While chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack in both sexes, women experience different symptoms from men. In addition to chest pain, both sexes may also feel pain in their throat, arms, shoulder blades or jaws. But women, in particular, may be short of breath or nauseous or they may feel cold, clammy or generally unwell. Women also tend to underplay symptoms. Any chest symptoms are treated as gastric pains and women usually self-medicate before seeking medical treatment. And women tend to wait an average 24 minutes longer than men to call an ambulance when they’re having a heart attack according to the British Heart Foundation. Women need to be aware that they do die of heart of attack.
How to Prevent Heart Disease
• Don’t smoke – this is the single most important thing you can do for your heart.
• Have your blood pressure checked periodically.
• Watch your cholesterol levels.
• If you have diabetes, it should be treated and controlled.
• Eat a healthy, low fat diet and pay attention to your weight.
• Keep your Body Mass Index number – an indicator of total body fat, based on a ratio between weight and height – at less than 25.
• Maintain a waist measurement of 35 inches or less.
• Report chest, arm, throat, shoulder blade or jaw discomfort that comes on with exercise and goes away with rest.
• If you are in your 40s, 50s or 60s and experience shortness of breath, report it to your doctor.
• If a close relative – a sibling or a parent – had early heart disease (in or before the 50s or 60s for, respectively, a man or a woman), your chance of heart problems is doubled, so you must work hard to reduce other risk factors.
• Exercise – take a brisk 30 minute walk every day.
(Taken from Reader’s Digest August 2008 issue on “A Dubious Equality” by Adeline Loh)
Read article on "Yoga Reduces Heart Disease Risk"