Heart and Vascular Care

Heart and Vascular Care

As a woman it is important for you to put your health needs first – heart disease doesn’t only affect men. In fact, According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease kills 1 out of 4 women in the United States.

Heart attacks and their aftermath tend to be more deadly in women. More women than men die within a year of having a heart attack. This may happen because women are generally older than men when they suffer heart attacks. Also, women don't respond as well as men to the treatments usually prescribed during or after a heart attack. 

However, women often overlook the symptoms or attribute them to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu, or normal aging. For many women, a heart attack may feel like a strange discomfort in the back or some other easily ignored sign, instead of crushing chest pain.

Know the Signs:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest lasting more than a few minutes, or if goes away and comes back
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  4. Other signs such as cold sweats, nausea/vomiting, or lightheadedness

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. 

Lakeland’s Emergency Departments in Niles and St. Joseph are two of only 13 accredited Chest Pain Centers [link to cardiac page] in Michigan. As an accredited Chest Pain Center, we ensure the highest level of specialized care you need quickly – because time lost is heart muscle lost.

Get on the path to a heart healthy life:

  • Reach and keep a healthy weight. You'll reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risk, hitting three key risk factors at once. For apple-shaped women, losing spare-tire fat is vital. Belly fat is linked to higher levels of triglycerides, a blood fat that raises your risk for heart disease.
  • Trim saturated fat and salt from your menu. When you can, trade butter for heart-healthy canola or olive oil. Swap red meat for seafood, a good source of omega-3 fats that help reduce triglycerides, clotting, and blood pressure.
  • Move more. Exercising at a moderate to high intensity for 40 minutes on average, 3 to 4 days a week, can lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart, decrease stress, and result in weight loss.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is the most common risk factor for women, and triples your heart attack risk. It may take a few tries to quit. You'll need to address your addiction by using a patch or chewing gum, for instance. You'll also need to modify your behavior, by munching a carrot when cravings strike, for example.
  • De-stress daily. Visit a friend. Light candles and listen to mood music. Take a yoga class. Putting yourself on your "to do" list and finding ways to defuse stress will help slow your breathing and heart rate, as you lower your blood pressure.

Heart to Heart

Elaine Bokhart
Jan, 2015
Know yourself, know your body, and know if something just isn't right for you.
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