Monday, February 25, 2013
Women's Heart Health
I know that most people posting about February being Heart Health month did so in the beginning of the month. But, better late than never right?? Besides, I've been working on this post pretty much all month. The last day of January, one of my best friend's younger sister died of a sudden massive heart attack. I think she is still somewhat in shock about it, but also going through the why her, why not me, the OMG I have a pain, is it a heart attack. So in my head I keep reworking this post. I'm going to look at it as a recap post for the month.
First of all, I am going to say that my mom had breast cancer - and has been cancer free for over 5 years now, so in no way shape or form am I saying that breast cancer awareness and research are not important. However, for many women, breast cancer is the "big health scare". It's what many of us worry about when we consider our long term health and mortality. The media makes sure each and every day - not just in October - we are aware of our self exams, our boob squishing appointments, the need for more research. But in a way this makes us lose focus on other female health and mortality issues.
In 2009 (the latest year I could find CDC statistics) 24% of women who died, died of heart disease. That's almost one quarter!! 22.2% died of cancer - but lung cancer surpassed breast cancer has the most frequent cancer women die of over ten years ago. And before you all start commenting that breast cancer directly affects females and heart disease affects everyone and research $ etc etc etc. Men get breast cancer too. Ok not enough to affect research $$ ( male research goes to erectile dysfunction - we know their priorities) Female heart disease is different than male heart disease.
Yes. Female heart disease is different than male heart disease. Yes, much of the causes - diet, exercise, stress - are the same. Cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats are a dietary issue for both sexes. Weight, and activity levels are risks for both sexes. And since neither sex can't stop aging, no matter how hard the cosmetics industry tries, this is a risk for both sexes. And all those risks are fairly well disseminated by the medical community and the media.
Research is done every day on those risks.
But. Women have a whole different set of risks. And women have a different set of symptoms. Many women do not realize they are having a heart attack. Thus they do not reach out for medical help. As women, we tend to do a great job of making sure the children and the men (ok when it comes to their health - they can be lumped in with the children) are taken care of from a medical standpoint. We tend not to do so for ourselves.
So stay tuned tomorrow, for our risks and what we can do to prevent heart disease as women. And please definitely check back on Wednesday, for the symptoms for female heart attacks.