LIVING HEALTHY – DR. ROBIN MILLER – A HEALTHY HEART – For many years, heart disease was ignored as a condition that was common to women. Research was focused on men because they were easier to study due to their lack of hormonal fluctuations. The results were extended to women and we were viewed as mini-men with periods.
Women are relatively protected from heart disease until we reach menopause as long as we do not have cardiac risk factors that include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, family history in a first degree relative, smoking, stress and depression, and a sedentary lifestyle. After menopause we rapidly catch up with men.
Fortunately, our hearts are now getting more attention since there is increased awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of men AND women. I know I am stating the obvious but we are different than men. We know that women with heart attack do not often have the classic symptom of an elephant sitting on the chest. Instead we may feel like we have a bad flu, jaw ache, overwhelming fatigue, and nausea, sleep disturbance, shortness of breath and/or anxiety. One study found that 95% of women who had a heart attack when questioned afterwards actually had unusual symptoms during the month beforehand.
The key to a healthy heart is the same as those for a healthy brain. Eat healthy, exercise and prevent heart disease by seeing your doctor and being proactive by attending to cardiac risk factors.