Saturday, February 23, 2013

Healthy Habits: Heart Health Myths

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 health problem in the United States today.One million Americans die of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders every year in the U.S.—that means 2 out of every 5 deaths in the United States or one life every 33 seconds.
More than half of all Americans will die from complications of atherosclerosis, the root of cardiovascular disease.
That’s why Dr. John Martin, who started the Heart Health Foundation wants to dispel myths regarding women and the disease:
1.      More women die of breast cancer than heart disease
Women have a common misconception that their only risk is cancer, particularly breast cancer. While pink remains the dominant color of woman’s health, almost 10 times more women die of heart disease each year than die from breast cancer.  Heart disease takes more women’s lives each year than all cancers combined.  It is long past time for women to add red to their health awareness wardrobe.
2.      Heart disease is a man’s problem.
While heart presents later in women than men, the consequences are as great or greater in women.  Survival after a heart attack is worse in women than men.  Women’s arteries are smaller and coronary angioplasty is riskier and outcomes are less favorable in women than men.  Diagnostic tests are less accurate as well.  In many respects heart disease in women is a greater problem in many respects.
3.      Women and men have the same heart attack symptoms.
Unfortunately women believe if they are not having chest pain, they must not have heart disease.  In fact 64% of women who die suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms.  Also women suffering from a heart attack often have atypical symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, arm or jaw pain and mistake them for signs of other illnesses.  As a result they often seek medical care later than men and suffer bigger consequences.
4.      Only older women need to worry about heart disease
While it is true, the older a woman is the more likely she is to have heart disease, heart disease affects women of all ages.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women 65 and older, the second leading cause of death in women 45-64 and the third leading cause of death in women 25-44.  Women of all ages need to be aware of heart disease risk and preventive measures.
5.      If a woman is fit and has no symptoms, she does not have heart disease
This is absolutely untrue.  Heart disease is a silent assassin and spares no body types.  Major risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol and high blood pressure affect women of all body types and therefore lead to heart disease in even the fittest of women. More importantly they cause no symptoms so women can have dangerously high cholesterol or blood pressure and never realize it until they suffer a heart attack or stroke.  It is very important for all women to be screened for risk factors of heart disease. Again 64% of all women who die suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms.
**John D. Martin, MD, FACS, is the Medical Director of Heart and Vascular Institute at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis,  Maryland. Under Dr. Martin’s leadership, the Center has become a nationally recognized facility for the treatment of vascular disease. In 2000, he along with Louise Hanson, CRNP he founded the Heart health Foundation and its Dare to C.A.R.E. program which saves lives by offering free cardiovascular disease screenings. Dr. Martin’s goal is to extend his program across the country and to continue to educate and save lives. To date the program has screened over 28,000 participants nationwide. 
HHF Background Info
The Heart Health Foundation (HHF) is a 501(C)(3), non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through education, early detection and prevention of heart and vascular diseases. With a focus on at-risk and underserved communities, HHF free screenings and educational programs will help reduce the impact of heart disease, promote healthy behavior and increase awareness for our children.

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