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Heart disease: not just a man's problem

Mon, Feb 15th, 2010
Posted in Health & Wellness

Many women are unaware that cardiovascular disease is not just the number one killer of men, it's also the number one killer of women. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease claims the lives of about 500,000 women a year-more than the next six causes of death combined.

"Women need to realize this is not a disease that impacts only men or older people," says Diana Nelson, PA-C, Gundersen Lutheran - Harmony Clinic. "Women are at risk of having heart disease even when they are in their 40s or 50s. And, if a woman's father has had a heart attack, she is just as much of a risk for developing heart disease as her brothers."

While these thoughts are sobering, there is also good news. Cardiovascular disease is one of the most preventable of all diseases.

"Tobacco use, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and inactivity are all common risk factors for heart disease that we can control," explains Diana. "By eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising and not smoking, we're taking key steps in preventing the onset of heart disease."

For more information on heart disease, go to or contact the Gundersen Lutheran Clinic nearest you.

Know your symptoms

Heart attack symptoms include:

• Chest discomfort (uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain)

• Discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach

• Shortness of breath

• Sweating, nausea or lightheadedness

Women may also experience less specific symptoms such as fatigue, trouble sleeping, indigestion and anxiety.

If you think you are having heart problems or a heart attack, get help immediately.

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