When asked what the number one cause of death among American women is, most people – including most women – get it wrong. It’s not cancer, or any of the other diseases you first thought of. The #1 killer of women is the same as it is for men – heart disease.
Heart disease kills more women every year than all forms of cancer combined. One third of American women – and half of African-American women – are living with cardiovascular disease. Worse, most of them don’t know it, because women are often under-informed about the risk factors and symptoms of heart disease, and as a result don’t go to a specialist to find out what their risk of dying from a heart attack really is. The purpose of this article is to correct this lack of information.
Most of these deaths from heart disease were unnecessary
Advances in the diagnostic techniques used by the top cardiologists in Palm Beach could have detected and prevented 80% of these heart attacks and strokes. If high risk factors for heart disease are found early, in most cases the actual disease can be either prevented before it appears or successfully treated. A strong case can thus be made that seeing a heart doctor in Palm Beach on a regular basis is even more important for most women over 40 than it is for men.
Know your risk factors for heart disease
The factors that indicate a woman has a high risk of developing heart disease are similar – but not quite the same – as for men. Having a family history of heart disease tops the list, followed by age (over 55) and race (African-American, Hispanic, and Native American women are more at risk). Among the risk factors you can lower through intelligent lifestyle choices are hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes, being overweight or obese, and being physically inactive. Lower these controllable risk factors, and you lower your overall heart risk. But there is an additional caveat for women, because studies have shown that they tend to focus on lowering only one or two of these controllable risk factors, and fail to work on controlling all of them simultaneously.
Know the symptoms of heart attack in women
If there is one piece of advice we’d like you to take away from this article from the best cardiologists in Palm Beach, it’s that you need to know how heart attack symptoms may be different in women than they are in men. Many women have had heart attacks and failed to seek treatment for them because they expected to see the symptoms they saw on TV – a man experiencing chest pain so intense and sudden that it leaves him clutching at his heart. While this may happen, it is more likely that women will experience milder discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, back, or other areas of the upper body. In women, this pain is often accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, breaking out in a cold sweat, abdominal pain, or sudden, unexplained feelings of fatigue, weakness, or anxiety.
If you experience any or all of these symptoms, call 9-1-1. Don’t wait, don’t assume that it’s not serious, and don’t try to drive yourself to the hospital. Call for an ambulance to take you to an emergency room as soon as possible. If you are having a heart attack, minutes count.
Learn how to prevent heart attacks in the first place
The most important first step in staying heart-healthy is to make an appointment with your local Palm Beach cardiologist and get a thorough checkup to determine your current level of heart disease risk. Come to this checkup ready to talk about your family medical history, to take a few simple, painless tests, and to discuss your overall lifestyle. Be honest with your doctor – if you really only exercise one or two times a month and eat too much fast food, say so.
After the checkup, follow your doctor’s advice and do whatever is necessary to reduce your risk. But start by making that call to 561-515-0080 today; it can literally save your life.