Heart Disease: A Stealthy Syndrome
According to the American Heart Association, Cardiovascular (Heart) disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.
The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. Heart attacks are caused by the most common type of heart disease called coronary artery disease. This disease occurs when there is a buildup of plaques in the arteries leading to inadequate blood flow to the heart. When the blockage is significant, the patient is at risk for a heart attack or a stroke. Contrary to popular belief, heart disease kills more women than men. Heart disease can be a silent killer, going undiagnosed until a woman experiences symptoms including pain or discomfort, fluttering feelings in the chest, shortness of breath and sudden weakness.
Women who have risk factors for the disease are at the greatest threat for developing life threatening heart conditions. Some of these include:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL Cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 49% of Americans have at least one of these risk factors.
Dr. Deirdre Greathouse-Williams, a family practice physician on staff at Silver Cross Hospital, is an advocate of screening for heart disease. “Taking care of yourself by taking a few simple tests offered here at the hospital and leading a healthy lifestyle can increase your life expectancy and quality of life immensely.” She goes on to encourage regular blood pressure monitoring, making healthy food choices and decrease your stress level by increasing your exercise activity.