TMH Living Well: Women more at risk for heart disease than men | CraigDailyPress.com

TMH Living Well: Women more at risk for heart disease than men

The Memorial Hospital

MSPT

With a lot of focus on cancer in the media, it's easy to forget about the No. 1 threat to women: heart disease. Each year, more women die from cardiovascular disease than from all cancers combined. As a woman, you may believe heart disease is more of a man's disease or that you don't have to worry about it until you're older. In fact, younger women are twice as likely to die of a heart attack than younger men.

"According to statistics, 50,000 more women than men die of heart disease every year. If you are a woman, don't wait to check your heart," said Dr. Gerald Myers, cardiologist with The Memorial Hospital.

Because heart disease is so common in women — and because the symptoms are different for women than men — Dr. Myers invites all women to attend his talk, "The Silent Stalker: Coronary Artery Disease in Women," taking place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at TMH.

"Heart disease in women is very difficult since many women have atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. The good news is that almost 50 percent of heart disease problems can be avoided by lifestyle changes," Myers said.

Women's heart attack symptoms often are more subtle, and their chest pain can feel more like pressure or tightness than the pain men tend to experience. Heart attack symptoms in women include:

• Unusual fatigue

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• Shortness of breath

• Chest pain

• Muscle weakness

• Sleep disturbance

• Nausea, vomiting or indigestion

• Lightheadedness, sweating or dizziness

• Discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen

"Women are at a particularly high risk if they have diabetes mellitus. Risk also is higher after menopause and for women who smoke while taking birth control pills," Myers said.

The solution to preventing heart disease is adequate blood pressure control and healthy lifestyle habits. Good habits can lower a woman's risk, Myers said.

¨Diet, exercise, attaining ideal body weight, and smoking cessation are key lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy. There is no quick fix; medications are not an antidote to an unhealthy lifestyle," he added.

A heart-healthy diet includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, legumes, lean meats, fish and a limited intake of trans-fats often found in baked goods and fried foods.

Weight management is also a key, as a growing waistline is linked to heart disease. Set realistic weight loss goals, aiming to lose weight gradually for a lasting effect.

A combination of diet changes and regular exercise works best. The American Heart Association recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise three to four days each week as a good goal. Better yet, aim to "move every day." Know that minutes add up and the benefits are the same whether you exercise 30 or more minutes all at once or in 10-minute intervals throughout the day.

¨Work with your doctor to set realistic goals and remember that modest changes in diet weight and exercise can have a big impact on cardiac risk," Myers said.

Want to learn more? Attend Myers’ informative talk on women's heart health this coming Tuesday.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig – improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

If you go

The Silent Stalker: Women and Heart Disease, by Dr. Gerald Myers, Cardiologist

6 p.m. Tuesday

The Memorial Hospital conference rooms

For more information, call 970-824-9411.

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