Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women in this country. It kills on average more than 2,000 Americans per day, prompting many to take control of their health.
Dr. Ann Davis, a cardiologist at Edward Hospital & Health Services’ Heart hospital says one main risk factors for heart disease is heredity.
“A main risk factor can be your family history, which you can’t really do much about but many people have bad family histories and their parents, grandparents, siblings have heart disease,” said Dr. Davis.
According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control, about 200,000 of heart disease and stroke deaths in 2010 were preventable and more than half of those were patients under age 65.
Leading health professionals like Dr. Davis to encourage lifestyle changes in their patients.
“You can’t change who your family is, but you can make exercise a part of your life, you can try to eat right, not smoke, if you have diabetes, get your sugars under control. Just so you can feel like you have a little more control over your life and it isn’t up to just a roll of the dice,” said Dr. Davis.
On average male heart attacks are caused by clogs in major arteries, which are easier to spot on an angiogram, but women tend to get blockages in tiny microvessles inside their heart, leading to undiagnosed heart disease and sometimes the absence of traditional heart attack warning sings, like chest pain.
And a heart attack before age 50 for a woman has proved to be twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
“Sometimes when you say did you have chest pain they’ll say no, but it could be a feeling of fullness, a feeling like an elephant is sitting on your chest, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be like that. It could be short of breath, it could be fatigue. It could be arm discomfort, jaw discomfort, all things that people can sometimes not attribute to their heart,” said Dr. Davis.
Dr. Davis says that each patient’s case is different, so when in doubt, consult your doctor.
“We would rather have you come in a make sure you’re okay than miss something and have something delayed,” said Dr. Davis.
For more information on heart attacks and heart disease visit edward.org/heart.
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