Eat Well - Medical Advisory Board

Be in the Know- Heart Disease & Women

Published: May 31st, 2013
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There are so many different approaches to sharing heart health information as we wrap up our celebration of Women’s Health Month here at GNC, but as a board-certified Cardiologist and member of the GNC Medical Advisory Board, I want to stress something to all of you reading this: heart disease is the number one killer of women. Yes, the number one killer of women, even beyond all cancers combined!

People are often shocked by this as they tend to think of heart disease striking men more—not so. What is more surprising to many women is that there are real differences in the symptoms of heart disease between men and women. Knowing about the symptoms specific to women could be the mean the difference between life and death if heart disease strikes you or someone you know.

Women should be aware of these possible signs of heart disease:

  • An uncomfortable pressure, ache or “heaviness” in your chest that may either last for a few minutes or come and go. Keep in mind that this could be felt more in your back than your chest in some cases.
  • Discomfort, ache or a more severe pain in one or both of your arms—or even in more unexpected places like your neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath could be an indicator, but know that it could be present with or without the other discomfort mentioned.
  • Some women might dismiss nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness or even a cold sweat as something else but these, too, could be warning signs.

If you or anyone around you is experiencing these symptoms or think there may be something wrong, the best thing to do is call for emergency help immediately.

There is some good news to share, though. Together with your health care team, you can work to lower your risk of heart disease.  Here are a few tips:

  • Know if heart disease runs in your family and share the details with your doctor as they could offer clues to keep in mind.
  • Don’t smoke at all, but especially if you are taking birth control pills or hormonal medications.
  • Properly control other diseases that have often been linked to heart disease such as diabetes or obesity.
  • Maintain a proper, quality exercise and nutritional regime, including keeping an eye on sodium intake.
  • High blood pressure has been referred to as “the silent killer” because people are often unaware that they have an issue. Have your blood pressure and your cholesterol checked often by your doctor and follow any prescribed treatment they provide closely.

While I sincerely hope that you never experience heart disease yourself, knowing these symptoms and tips really can make a difference on your journey to LIVE WELL.


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