By: Mellanie True Hills
February is Heart Month. If you’re wondering why we’re focused on a man’s disease, think again: heart disease is our worst enemy, the #1 killer of women. Here are the answers to some questions I’m frequently asked by women.
Why should women be concerned about heart disease? Isn’t breast cancer our #1 concern?
To dispel that myth, here are some significant heart disease and stroke facts for the US, though the numbers for the rest of the world are similarly shocking.
These numbers come from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH).
1. Contrary to widespread belief, heart disease is the #1 killer of women, and stroke is #3, together taking nearly 1,400 women per day. That’s over half a million women every year.
2. Each year, 1.2 million Americans have a heart attack.
3. One out of every two women can expect to have heart disease and to die from it.
4. Forty per cent of all women’s deaths today are attributed to heart disease and stroke.
5. Women account for more than sixty per cent of stroke deaths.
6. Heart disease kills more women than men, and has each year for the past 20 years.
7. Heart disease and stroke kill ten times as many women as breast cancer, and more than all cancers combined. Cancer survival rates are increasing, but many of those cancer survivors will die from heart disease.
8. Women have different heart attack symptoms from men, and they’re more subtle. Many women, and their doctors, don’t know this.
9. Many women don’t know that they have a heart problem until AFTER they have had a heart attack, making death the first symptom for many women.
10. Men are much more likely than women to survive heart attacks, and to get more aggressive treatment for their heart disease. As a result, 38% of women who have heart attacks die within one year.
11. In addition to being the number three killer, stroke is the number one cause of long-term disability, with survivors experiencing memory loss, vision problems, and paralysis. Almost five million Americans are stroke survivors, with almost thirty per cent of them permanently disabled.
Excerpted from “A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life”, Copyright 2005, Mellanie True Hills
How would I know if I was having a heart attack? Would I have chest pains?
For most men, yes; for most women, no. Women have different heart attack symptoms from men. Where men typically have crushing chest pain and profuse sweating, women tend to have more subtle symptoms, such as shortness of breath, tiredness or fatigue, nausea or mild indigestion, and/or pain in the left shoulder or arm. These symptoms are easily mistaken for other things, so if you have these symptoms, please check with your doctor.
The good news is that heart disease can be prevented, if you just know how. There’s a complete program for preventing heart disease in “A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life“.
We must stamp out this insidious killer of women, so please spread the word among all the women you know. Call 1-888-MY-HEART to receive your free “Go Red for Women” red dress pin from the American Heart Association, and wear it with pride throughout February and all year long. Anytime you see that red dress pin, or anything red, please use that as a reminder to take care of yourself and your health – they’re both precious.
About the Author: Mellanie True Hills, the Health & Productivity Revitalizer, is a women’s health expert who speaks and coaches individuals and organizations in creating healthy productivity. She is the author of A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health and Longevity. Find out more at http://www.mellaniehills.com
Copyright 2005, 2006 by Mellanie True Hills. All rights reserved.
TORONTO (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) — For breast cancer patients, radiation treatments are often an essential part of a complete recovery, killing any cancer cells left-over from surgery. For many women, though, radiation causes some unpleasant side effects. Now, women who undergo a new radiation technique are able to avoid some pain.
Dana Markoff is in constant motion. Not even a breast cancer diagnosis could break her stride, although at first, this mother of four was worried she would develop painful skin burns from radiation therapy.
“I was a little bit red; then it turned brown like a tan,” Markoff says. Doctors say she did avoid some of the pain — by having intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, instead of standard radiation.
With IMRT, radiologists can better control the beams’ intensity. When a section of the breast has had enough radiation, the machine’s focus gets tighter.
“By doing that, you can deliver the dose extremely evenly, and basically you can suppress any hot spots,” Jean-Philippe Pignol, M.D., Ph.D., of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, tells Ivanhoe.
He says with traditional radiation, half of their patients experience painful skin burns. But in a new study, patients who had IMRT were three-times less likely to have severe skin reactions. They also had half the risk for burns anywhere on the breast.
“Breast IMRT not only reduces skin burn but reduces pain and improves quality of life,” Dr. Pignol says. Doctors say IMRT therapy is widely available but is more expensive than traditional radiation therapy, so it’s less likely to be covered by insurance. IMRT is under study for prostate and head and neck cancer.
For Markoff, IMRT meant more quality time coaching her daughter’s softball team — instead of being sidelined by cancer’s side effects.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click here.