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If Heart Disease was on our face, we'd all pay more attention to it!

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I am Lois Trader - I have heart disease, but heart disease does not have me.

Remember all our commitments including those that involve our children/ grandchildren/ making money to help all of them, or simply a trip to the mall - won't be worth jack - if you don't have your health, or worst of all lose your life. So here we go again. Read this for the sake of all the women in your life.

Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in Women

Most people are unaware that over 500,000 women die each year of heart disease; that number is higher than the next four causes of death combined, including all types of cancer. Unfortunately, about 1 out of 5 women still do not believe that heart disease is their biggest threat.

Heart Disease Affects Women Differently Than it Does Men:

  • Blood lipids: After menopause, women have higher cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of heart disease, especially if they also have high triglycerides.
  • Symptoms: During a heart attack, women often don’t suffer the crushing chest pain that men do. Instead, they may have shortness of breath, heartburn-like symptoms, unusual fatigue, nausea, and neck and/or shoulder pain.
  • Delay of care: Due to the lack of severe pain most men feel, the more subtle symptoms mean some women arrive at the ER 20 minutes later than men…a delay that can cause more damage to the heart, or death.
  • Diagnosis and treatment: Women’s arteries are smaller. This makes certain procedures and surgeries, such as coronary stents and balloon angioplasty, as well as CABG more difficult.

What You Can Do

The good news is that 80% of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts, such as eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and stopping smoking. Unlike our age, gender, and family history, risk factors that can be changed with heart healthy habits are:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Being physically inactive

Working closely with your physician and your Berkeley HeartLab Clinical Educator is an important step towards decreasing your (or a loved one’s) risk of heart attack or stroke. If you are concerned, please don’t wait; talk to your provider about your BHL test results and what lifestyle changes they would recommend to lower your risk for a cardiovascular event.

Show Your Support

February 4th is National Wear Red Day®. It doesn’t matter if it is a t-shirt or a fancy dress, pull out your red and wear it proud! Then find 5 women you care about and do something heart healthy for yourselves – go for walk, make a nutritious recipe together or simply be there for each other to listen if times are stressful. You can find more ways to support National Wear Red Day® and Go Red for Women at http://www.goredforwomen.org/.

Reference: above statistics are from 2010 American Heart Association.

Lois plays a key role in educating the public about the challenges of aging and some of the ways we all can prepare ourselves, including the CareGivers Program, helping people deal with the growing challenges of professional disability and aging.

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