Your Life, Your Health: Women and heart disease
Updated: Monday, February 3 2014, 08:08 PM EST
When you think of someone suffering a heart attack you may envision the person grabbing their chest or having shooting pains in their arm. But in women, heart issues can reveal themselves through very different symptoms. And often, because of this women can be misdiagnosed – sometimes even by their physician.
According to the American Heart Association, in the last 30 years more women have died of heart disease and stroke than men, a gap continuing to widen. Currently the number one killer of women, pushing women to be proactive when it comes to heart health is a big part of the Go Red for Women campaign. National Wear Red Day is this Friday, February 7th.
A great example of quick response can be found in Thelma Hill of Guilderland. A worker at the Empire State Plaza, she knew something was wrong when her daily walk up and down the concourse left her out of breath one day in November.
“I walk the concourse every day with a friend of mine. She asked me what was wrong and I said I don’t feel right. I don’t know what it is but I don’t feel right.”
Hill has lived with a heart condition for years – and because of this, knew to take these abnormal symptoms seriously. When the feeling returned the next day, Hill visited her cardiologist. She didn’t suffer a heart attack, but an EKG and stress test revealed an irregular heartbeat. Hill had a cardioversion to put her heart back into a normal rhythm.
“The doctor told me I was very fortunate.” Hill says. “A lot of people don’t pay attention. They don’t respond the way I did.”
Women’s symptoms of a heart condition can vary in comparison to men. It’s not always the ‘elephant sitting on your chest’ sensation. Signals of a problem can manifest as indigestion, anxiety, or in Thelma’s case fatigue and shortness of breath.
“Go to the doctor and get an annual checkup.” Hill advises other women. “You may not necessarily like what you find but knowing it half the battle. You can’t do anything if you don’t know there is a problem.”
For more information on National Wear Red Day, visit the American Heart Association’s website: https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/get-involved/national-wear-red-day/