COVID-19 and, now, its nasty variants, have changed the way we approach life, our regular routines and our activities of daily living. One of the most troubling things about these alterations to our norms is that women are bearing the brunt of navigating these changes and they are neglecting their own health in the process.
Thanks to the highly-contagious coronavirus and the serious repercussions associated with contracting it, a recent study by the Cleveland Clinic reported that many senior women procrastinated seeing their doctors for annual physical examinations in 2020, with a number of these women having heart disease. This is especially concerning to me, being a certified senior advisor, because I know firsthand how neglecting one’s health can lead to dire consequences.
February is Heart Health Awareness Month, and since heart disease is the number one cause of death in women in the United States, it is critical that senior women understand the importance of maintaining a healthy heart.
According to Dr Tara Narula, a board certified cardiologist, professor of cardiologic medicine, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, and medical contributor to CBS This Morning, the following statistics emphasize the importance of seeing your doctor and staying proactive about good heart health:
- Cardiovascular disease impacts as many as 44 million women in the US, and it is the #1 killer of women ages 55 and up.
- One woman dies every 80 seconds due to heart disease.
- More than 400,000 women die each year from cardiovascular disease, more than all cancers, accidents, and diabetes combined.
- One of three women will die from cardiovascular disease.
- Only 55% of women even realize they’re at risk.
- Heart disease occurs in women of all ages.
- Half of all adults in the United States have some form of heart disease.
Since 80% of heart disease cases are preventable, it is recommended that women understand their risk factors and address them by having conversations with their physician and consider lifestyle changes.
General risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:
- High Blood Pressure [HBP]
- blood sugar
Moreover, there are additional risk factors for heart disease in senior women based on biological differences:
- Health during pregnancy [HBP, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc]
- Early menopause
- Inflammatory conditions
- Depression, Anxiety
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Breast Cancer treated with radiation
If you or a loved one has one or more of these risk factors for heart disease, or have been diagnosed with CVD, it’s crucial to know the warning signs of a heart attack, or possibly, heart disease:
- Pressure in chest
- Pain or discomfort in arms, back, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
Now that we know the risk factors and symptoms of a serious heart condition, we should all examine our lifestyles, have a conversation with our doctors, and make our heart health a priority by adhering to the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7®, to maintain a healthy heart:
- Manage Blood Pressure
- Control Cholesterol
- Reduce Blood Sugar
- Get Active
- Eat Better
- Lose Weight
- Stop Smoking
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CBS This Morning