MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and the American Heart Association (AHA) encourage all women to take control of their heart health this month, which is American Heart Month.
According to the AHA, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women, causing one in three deaths each year. It affects some women at higher rates than others, but most cardiovascular disease can still be prevented with education and healthy lifestyle changes.
Heart disease and stroke can affect a woman at any age, so it’s vital for all women to understand their personal risk factors and family history. Women can also experience unique life events, including pregnancy and menopause, which can affect their risk. Research shows that stress can impact health, making it important for women to understand the mind-body connection and how to focus on improving their physical health and mental well-being.
“Unfortunately, many women don’t realize that cardiovascular disease is their greatest health threat. They will get annual mammograms, Pap smears and screening colonoscopies, but they often neglect their heart health,” said Madhavi Kadiyala, MD, director of the Women’s Heart Program at WVU Heart and Vascular Institute. “The best news about heart disease is that it can be reversed and even prevented. Small changes like moving more, eating well and maintaining healthy blood pressure can go a long way.
The Women’s Heart Center at WVU Heart and Vascular Institute provides West Virginia and surrounding areas with a center dedicated to screening and educating women about identifying and reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease by providing ongoing information to the general population and community providers about the latest female cardiovascular risk factors and treatments.
It is also important for women to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack:
- Uncomfortable pressure, compression, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as cold sweats, nausea or dizziness.
- As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort.
However, women are slightly more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, especially shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
“Anyone showing symptoms of a heart attack – female or male – should call 911 and get to the hospital immediately,” said George Sokos, DO, medical director of the noninvasive cardiology and advanced heart disease program. heart failure at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, mentioned. “With a heart attack, every minute counts, and the sooner treatment begins, the better the chance of survival.”
For more information on women’s heart health, visit GoRedForWomen.org. For more information about the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart.