Women’s heart health often takes a back seat | PostIndependent.com

Women’s heart health often takes a back seat

Just because women in Colorado are statistically healthier than their counterparts nationwide doesn’t mean they shouldn’t listen to their hearts.”A lot of women think they are at more risk for breast cancer than heart attack,” said Dr. Carlos Albrecht, a cardiologist at the Valley Heart and Vascular Center at Valley View Hospital. “(Heart disease) is the No. 1 killer of women.”According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke, two of the many cardiovascular diseases that kill nearly 500,000 women annually, are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of women, respectively. Such high death rates are linked to the silence about cardiovascular disease in women.”In women with coronary artery disease, for example, symptoms can be subtle,” said Dr. Mallory Harling, a general gynecologist with All Valley Women’s Care. “They can include indigestion, heartburn, and chest or shoulder pain.”Dr. Albrecht said women’s genetic ability to tolerate pain oftentimes plays a role in detecting the disease before a heart attack or stroke happens.”For women, pain is very subjective and they often compare it to delivering a baby,” he said. “They should pay attention to how they feel instead of what pain they are having. If they don’t feel themselves, have a lack of energy, or gasp for air when they climb a flight of stairs, they may want to see a doctor.”Both doctors warn that most women become at risk for cardiovascular diseases after menopause, or after age 50. Cholesterol levels can often increase at this time, which can be a red flag for attending physicians.”Cholesterol is an important indicator of problems,” he said. “Also, there can be a compilation of factors based on family history, weight status, and lipid profile that can be monitored.”To raise awareness about heart disease and stroke and motivate women to take action to reduce risk, the American Heart Association sponsors its Go Red For Women movement. On Friday, Feb. 4, women across the country are encouraged to wear red, the organization’s color for women and heart disease. Those who would like to support Go Red for Women can visit http://www.americanheart.org or call 1-888-MY-HEART to receive a free red dress pin.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518, aclark@postindependent.com

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