Living Heart Healthy
Sue Nordstrom, BSN, RN, Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator, and Brian Patel, MD, FACEP, Chief of Emergency Services at Sturdy Memorial Hospital
Heart disease affects one in three women in America, killing nearly one woman every minute. To put it into perspective, by the time you finish reading this article, another woman will have lost her life to this condition. What’s even more staggering is that 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing this disease but only one in five believe that it is their greatest health threat. The reasons for this belief system are myriad, “heart disease is a man’s disease,” “breast cancer is the number one killer of women” and many more. To be frank, more women die from heart disease than men, and while the thought of cancer induces fear in all, it is the hearts of women that kill them, more than all the cancers combined.
Heart Disease Definition
Women are more likely than men to experience atypical symptoms. Because of this, it is important for women to recognize a cluster of unusual symptoms or persistent sensations in the chest, back or stomach and seek emergency treatment when something feels wrong. The more time left untreated, the more possible damage to the heart muscle.
Risk Factors and Lowering Risk
There are ten major risk factors for heart disease, three of which cannot be changed - age, gender and family history. The remaining risk factors: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, overweight, smoking, diabetes and poor diet are all factors that can be improved with changes to your daily activities. It’s important to make healthy lifestyle changes to improve modifiable risk factors. Recommendations include eating a healthy, low-cholesterol diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and seeing your doctor on a regular basis. If you need help getting started, contact Sturdy Memorial Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Department at 508.236.7390 to learn more about their cardiac rehab and wellness program.
For More Information, visit the American Heart Association’s