- Published: Monday, 03 February 2020 12:50
- Joanne Wallenstein
February is American Heart Month, and now’s the time to increase awareness about your heart health. Cardiologists from White Plains Hospital have provided the following information about heart attacks in women, as well as five 5 simple tips for a healthier heart and a longer life.
The Surprising Facts about Heart Attacks in Women
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Yet, heart disease continues to be considered a “mostly male health issue.” Because of this misconception, women who are experiencing signs of a heart attack often don’t seek the immediate, life-saving care they need.
We’ve all seen the symptoms of a heart attack dramatized on TV. A man screams out, grabs his arm, and loses his balance. While this can occur, in women the symptoms of a heart attack are often more subtle. In fact, it is common for women to wait more than six hours after first feeling the symptoms of a heart attack before going to the ER, as they believe they are experiencing non life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu, or normal aging.
What are the signs of a heart attack in women?
Women can feel chest pain, but more often will feel a little chest tightness or some weakness, shortness of breath, or pain anywhere in the upper body, like the back of the neck or jaw, dizziness, nausea or fainting. Surprisingly, chest pain is absent in 43% of women having heart attack. This is a primary reason why women delay seeking treatment or calling 9-1-1. It is important for women to know the signs, and to seek help immediately for any troubling symptoms.
Women continue to lag behind men in getting screened for heart disease. According to the AHA, almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease exhibit no previous symptoms. This is why physicians and cardiologists stress the importance of regular cardiac screening for women.
Lower Your Risk
Lifestyle changes can greatly impact heart health in women. According to the AHA, nearly 80% of cardiac events can be prevented, yet heart disease continues to be a woman’s greatest health threat. To combat this threat, you should consider the following recommendations:
• Schedule an appointment with a medical professional to discuss your personal risk for a heart attack.
• Don’t smoke, or quit now – By quitting smoking, you cut your risk of coronary heart disease by about 50%
• Exercise moderately (or as advised by your medical professional) – The typical recommendation is 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. Anything that gets you moving counts, so walk, take the stairs, or park far away and walk to the store. Then, as your body is able to accept a higher level of activity, move more.
• Eat a well-balanced diet – Avoid processed foods and stick to natural, whole foods. We recommend a Mediterranean diet, including lean meat and healthy snacks, for optimal heart health.
While it’s frightening to know that someone dies of a heart attack every 43 seconds, this statistic can be reversed. Make February your month to get heart healthy. Know the symptoms of heart disease, get screened, and practice prevention.
5 Simple Tips for a healthier heart and a longer life
Achieving a healthy lifestyle does not always need to include drastic changes to your daily routine. Here’s how cardiologist Dr. David E. Solarz works wellness into his busy day:
1. Try to get at least 4,400 steps per day. “The easiest way to get this? Take a 30 minute walk every day at least five times a week. You’ll easily reap the cardiovascular benefits.”
2. Substitute fruits and vegetables for meat. “The higher fiber content in produce may help to lower the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol in your blood. Also, research has shown that a plant-heavy diet can also reduce blood pressure and inflammation.”
3. Avoid trans fats and limit intake of saturated fat. “Fat is important in the diet, but where you get it and what kind makes a difference in overall health. Good fats include unsaturated fat from avocados, nuts, olive oil and some vegetable oils. Try to limit cheese, dairy, fried foods and desserts, which are high in saturated and trans fats.”
4. If trying to lose weight, cut the portion size and break up meals into 5 or 6 smaller portions. “By doing this, you are making sure you have energy available at all times of the day. This helps to better control blood sugar and insulin, preventing sudden drops that cause you to become famished and start overeating.”
5. Finally, meditation and social connections are very important. “More and more research is finding the connection between mindfulness and overall body awareness can result in greater physical and mental health benefits, including better control of blood sugar, as well as improved thinking and memory skills. Getting out a little every day and being social is good for the body and keeps the mind sharp and ready to go.”
Dr. David E. Solarz is a board-certified cardiovascular disease specialist, with clinical expertise in adult cardiology, advanced and nuclear cardiac imaging, peripheral vascular disease and arrhythmias. To make an appointment at his 33 Davis Avenue, White Plains office, call (914) 849-7180.