Heart Health:
Recognize signs of Heart Disease in Women


As far as their heart health goes, women have a one in four chance of dying of heart disease, declares Dr. Sharonne Hayes, Director of Women's Heart Clinic, Mayo Clinic. Surprisingly, we often don't realize we're at risk. That's because in a woman, a heart attack may present itself differently than in a man.

Women's Heart Disease: What it Looks Like

Besides the classic chest pain or shortness of breath (which may be less noticeable for a woman than other symptoms), pay attention to the following:

  • abdominal pain or discomfort or nausea
  • pain between the shoulder blades, in the jaw or arms
  • palpitations or a racing heartbeat
  • unusual fatigue

Many times, a woman's heart has already been damaged by the time she goes to the doctor....

...merely because she didn't associate the less obvious symptoms with a heart attack.

Four Steps to Reduce your Heart Risk

For women, it's especially important to:

  • Avoid smoking--even if you only smoke a few cigarettes socially with friends.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.
  • Exercise. This benefits us both ways--physically and mentally. Depression--twice as common in women as in men--increases heart disease risk. Regular exercise helps improve mood, and -- voila!--risk goes down.
  • Reduce chronic stress. This is the place where complementary medicine and therapies work so well.

My friend Jane has an entire site devoted to stress relief!


Stress Reducers Your Heart Will Love

    guided meditation
    adequate sleep
    regular exercise (that again!)
    Tai Chi--especially the Chi gung form
    listening to music
    relaxing with friends....

...whatever helps to release tension, do it! Find what works for you, and plan on using at least a few minutes of your day in that activity. Short and frequent activity beats longer and infrequent, when it comes to stress relief.

So you like laughing at those stupid horror flicks with your sister? Do it! If it works for you, it works, and that's all you and your heart need.

:sidebar: On a personal note, I had to search quite a while to find a form of exercise that appealed to me. Not being one to enjoy gasping for breath or getting sweaty, I despised running, jogging, aerobercise, racquetball, etc. But--I do so love to dance the salsa, rumba and chacha! Listening to great Latin music and working up a sweat never was so much fun.

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