A Heartfelt Gift for Mother’s Day

Posted on May 8, 2014

This is National Heart Week 2014. Since heart disease is the # 1 killer of women in the US, here is a gift that you can give to all the women in your life this Mother’s Day.  The gift of “heart care awareness”.  Consider using the information to start a conversation on Mother’s Day about the importance of heart health.

*Heart disease symptoms are different for women than for men.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. But it’s often subtle discomfort, such as pressure or tightness in the chest, not the sharp crushing chest pain usually linked to heart attacks.

*Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Right arm pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

*Often women tend to show up in emergency rooms after heart damage has already occurred because they minimize their symptoms and their symptoms are not those typically associated with a heart attack. Women should understand if they experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

*There are several lifestyle changes women can make to reduce the risk of heart disease:

  • Quit or don’t start smoking.
  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Prioritize stress reduction in daily life (women may be more vulnerable to stress-induced heart problems than men).

And be sure to take prescribed medications appropriately, such as blood pressure medications, blood thinners and aspirin. It is essential that the medical conditions, which are risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, be managed well.

*If women have heart disease or have undergone procedures like heart valve replacement, stenting or transplants, they may be eligible to enter a cardiac rehabilitation program paid for by Medicare.  Access to these programs has recently been expanded (see the related NY Times article.)  Cardiac rehab programs can help improve overall health and quality of life. So women, ask your doctor if you are eligible for referral.

Happy & Healthy Mother’s Day!