If you are looking for a reason to spring into shape this season, I have some sobering statistics for you.
“Heart, disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the No. 1 cause of death in American women, claiming almost 420,000 lives each year, or nearly one death each minute. CVD kills more women than the next three causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer,” according to www.heart.org Cardiovascular Disease: Women’s No. 1 Health Threat fact sheet.
So, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What are some of the risk factors?
• Smoking: The reasons that smoking is dangerous are too numerous to mention but just stop now. By quitting you will cut your risk for heart disease in half.
• High blood Pressure: The plaque build-up on the artery walls may be increased by the stress of high blood pressure.
• High cholesterol: Build-up in the artery walls, making the heart work harder.
It is also important to be physically active, watch your weight, and reduce stress levels. Being under stress can raise adrenaline levels in your body, which raises your heart rate and blood pressure. This can cause your arteries to tighten and narrow.
We all know the devastation a heart attack can bring to both sexes, but symptoms can differ between the two groups.
It is important to note that a woman’s symptoms of a heart attack, as opposed to a man’s, are often vague and they can be present for years but may accelerate as long as a month prior to the heart attack itself.
And some women may have heart disease without even realizing it. The risk increases with age, especially in post-menopausal women who no longer produce estrogen.
So, women having a heart attack may experience symptoms such as:
• Mild chest pain;
• Unusual fatigue;
• Pressure or pain in the upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw or arms;
• Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing;
• Light-headedness, weakness and dizziness;
• Breaking out in a cold sweat;
• Nausea, or stomach or abdominal pain;
• Unexplained feelings of anxiety or dread;
• Discomfort, fullness, tightness, and squeezing or pressure in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or is regularly repeated;
• Increase in fluid retention;
• Unexplained coughing.
If you are having any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. While it may turn out to be nothing, time is of the essence if there is a problem. Be sure to have a thorough cardiac evaluation including an electrocardiogram (EKG) or an echocardiogram, and a blood test to check your cardiac enzymes.
The bottom line is to not ignore symptoms, to listen to your body and talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider. Your life depends on it.
There’s nothing like a parade to make you feel like a kid again. Eastern Area Agency on Aging is hosting a slide show of the Collette Vacations trip, “California New Year’s Getaway,” that features the Tournament of Roses Parade, at 11 a.m., May 31, at the EAAA offices.
Don’t want to be away from home too long? Not a problem. This trip is only a few days, departing Dec. 29 and returning Jan. 2, 2013, although you have the option to make a side trip to Las Vegas. Imaging leaving the cold weather in Maine for the sun-soaked California, not to mention being greeted by thousands of fragrant roses.
Call 941-2865 to see a vivid presentation of this spectacular parade and other highlights of the trip, including, the Legends in Concert show. Of course refreshments will be served at the presentation.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email email@example.com or visit http://www.EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.