When news broke Star Wars star Carrie Fisher’s untimely death right before this past New Year’s, it shook the entire nation. After suffering a heart attack on a flight from London, while on a book tour, the 60-year-old actress succumbed to the medical emergency. Her mother, fellow iconic actress Debbie Reynolds, passed away just one day later.
The hugely tragic passing of the mother and daughter duo is an unfortunate and mind-boggling tragedy, but with heart disease now standing as the leading cause of death among women—and one of the most preventable—research is gives us insight into how we can diminish risk and lead longer lives.
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According to Harvard Health Publications, coronary heart disease is the single biggest cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of women and men in nearly equal numbers—roughy 500,000 lives each year. While heart disease has been associated with men’s health for decades, the data shows this is just as much a women’s issue.
In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, about half of the women interviewed knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, yet only 13% said it was their greatest personal health risk. While we don’t suggest fearing the reaper and running scared from heart disease your whole life, women can and should equip themselves with tools and knowledge that support healthy hearts.
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Top heart attack symptoms in women in the month leading up to a heart attack include: unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance and shortness of breath. Symptoms during a heart attack include: shortness of breath, weakness, unusual fatigue and cold sweats and dizziness.
Additionally, research is identifying gender differences in heart disease that may help fine-tune prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in women. Changes to a woman's blood following menopause, changes in her metabolic state from, and unique reactions to diabetes can all affect her heart in ways that don’t occur for men.
In order to reduce risk of heart disease, experts suggests women: do not smoke, be active, eat healthy, reduce stress, and actively seek help for depression. With these measures, a woman’s battle to fight heart disease is much stronger, attainable and achievable than otherwise.
What measures do you take to ensure heart health for yourself and loved ones? We love to hear from you! Share with us in the comment section below.