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Heart health for women over 50

One in four women die from heart disease. One in 30 die from breast cancer. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.

23 percent of women will die within one year after having a heart attack. About 46 percent of women become disabled with heart failure within six years of having a heart attack. Two-thirds of women who have a heart attack fail to make a full recovery. Scary statistics.

The good news is you have the power to reduce a number of the risk factors. Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and diabetes is vital.. Regular exercise is another benefit in reducing your risk factors. And if you smoke, stopping will help reduce the risk as well. There are obviously some risk factors that are beyond your control, such as heredity and gender, however, controlling the things you can, is a major step in reducing your chances of heart disease.

Although some heart attacks can be sudden and intense, that is most often not the case. According to the American Heart Association, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what is wrong and wait too long before getting help, especially women. If you are having a heart attack, the quicker you obtain help, the better your chances of a full recovery.
Know the warning signs. Classic symptoms are:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jawbone or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

More common symptoms in women are:

  • Indigestion or gas-like pain
  • Dizziness, nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weakness, fatigue
  • Discomfort/pain between shoulder blades
  • Recurring chest discomfort.

Know the risk factors. Know the symptoms. And never delay obtaining help. If in doubt, it's better to call 911 and be safe.

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