When many individuals think of heart disease, they often refer to it as a disease that mostly occurs in men. While certainly men can get heart disease, women are by no means unaffected. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that heart disease is the main cause of demise in women. In 2013 alone nearly 290,000 females died as a result of cardiac disease. That amounts to approximately “1 in every 4 female deaths” (CDC, n.d.).
These are the sobering statistics of women affected by cardiac disease: Almost 6% of all white women, nearly 8% of all black women, and over 5.5% of Mexican American women will have cardiac disease. What is even more profound is that more than 60% of these women who experience a cardiac event that is inconsistent with life, have no symptoms prior to the event. The lesson here is that even if you do not have symptoms of cardiac disease does not mean you are at a lesser risk.
Despite heart disease being known as the “silent killer,” women who do have cardiac symptoms typically report dull, sharp or burning chest discomfort, pain in the neck or jaw area, a sense of fatigue, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations just to name a few.
So what are some of the risk factors for cardiac disease? Uncontrolled elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, being overweight, using large amounts of alcohol, being physically inactive, maintaining a poor diet, and having diabetes.
To decrease your chances of getting cardiac disease, you should do the following:
Control your blood pressure (have it checked regularly)
Have diabetes testing if you are at risk
Have your cholesterol checked regularly
Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and eat more fresh vegetables and fruits
If you do drink alcohol, limit it to one drink per day
Avoid or learn strategies to deal with stress
If you have any questions or concerns about your own wellness, contact your primary care provider to set up an appointment.
This article was written by Michael Mitchell-Beam, FNP, ARNP. If you are interested in becoming a patient of Michael’s he works in Charlestown, Claremont, and Newport clinics of Keady Family Practice.