BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, affecting about one in every four women. Often thought of as a “man’s disease,” a woman’s risk becomes equivalent to a man’s starting at age 60. In fact, the numbers rise so greatly for women of menopausal age that the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
Despite increased awareness, many still do not recognize that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Heart disease presents differently in women. Many of the signs we have come to look for have been based on studies of men and do not apply to women.
HEART DISEASE SYMPTOMS SPECIFIC TO WOMEN
Women are more likely to describe chest pain that is dull, heavy, burning or sharp. Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, ribs, or pain in the upper abdomen, back or shoulder. These may occur during rest, begin during physical activity, or be triggered by mental stress. Stress deeply affects women and cannot be overlooked as a leading cause of all chronic disease including heart disease.
Early warning signs of Cardiovascular disease can present as elevations in blood pressure and cholesterol. Chronic headaches, heart palpitations, and flutters are common signs that the cardiovascular system is under stress.
Conventional treatments for heart disease are focused on prescription medications designed at symptom management. While these provide a short-term solution, they do not fix the underlying cause of the problem. Often women are lead to believe that they are doing all they can to address the health issue at hand while the underlying condition still remains.
STATIN DRUGS AND WOMEN
In the United States, approximately 13.5 percent of women aged 45 to 64 take a statin medication to reduce their cholesterol. According to the 2013 American Heart Association guidelines, while effective at preventing second heart attacks they are not effective at prevention of first time heart attacks. Statins have been linked with an increased risk of diabetes, muscle and liver damage, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, memory loss and confusion. Most of the recommendations for statins are for cholesterol levels that are only slightly elevated. The benefits do not exceed the risks for these women.
MANAGING HEART DISEASE WITH DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE FACTORS
Health conditions affect so much more than someone’s health. They affect everyone around us as well. We all have people in our lives who depend on us. Those people cherish quality time with you more than you will ever know.
If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired it’s time to make a change. We only get one great precious life.
Follow these steps to kick heart disease risk to the curb and prevent yourself from ever needing to go see the cardiologist.
- Exercising 150 minutes per week has been shown to reduce Heart Disease Risk. That’s only 30 minutes five times per week!
- Manage stress with healthy coping measures.
- Track your blood pressure and cholesterol. Know your numbers.
- Work with a mentor to help you achieve your health goals.
See “Menopause and Heart Disease” published in this month’s issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine! TAKE ME TO THE ISSUE
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Good morning gracious lady and thank you for the update. What an outstanding blog. Great job. It is paramount to raise awareness because this opens the door to how do we resolve these issues. This is where an outstanding medical professional like yourself brings to bare the path to recovery. Many of us go about our daily lives unaware of the pending dangers that exist in our everyday activities and habits . It is through professionals like yourself that we can create a better life for ourselves. So thanks again for showing us the path to a more healthier life. I encourage everyone who values their health and well being to reach out to you and seek the level of care and guidance that you so graciously provide. I know I did and as a result have a much healthier life now and going into the future. Thanks again for all of your expertise and support.
Thank you. You are a lovely doctor. I met you a few years ago on a telephone call. You were very helpful.