(WJHL)- In this edition of HMG Health Matters News Channel 11’s Sara Diamond talks to a primary care physician with Holston Medical Group about women and heart disease.
Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for women, more than all cancers combined.
The good news: Around 80% of cardiac and stroke events can be prevented with education and action.
Dr. Mary Axelrad, a primary care physician with Holston Medical Group educates her patients during their visits. She says that is one of the keys to living a long and healthy life. But she says women need to know their heart attack symptoms are unique.
“Women experience it different than men,” she says. “It’s not always the classic chest pressure chest pain. They can be a little nauseous, they can have other symptoms, they can have arm pain or jaw pain instead.”
Dr. Axelrad says there are several things women need to know to prevent a stroke or cardiac event, not just family history.
“The good thing is, there are a lot of things to do, a lot of behavioral changes people can make,” she says. “Is your sugar running a little high? Is your cholesterol high? Are you not exercising? Are you going out to fast food every night? So, we talk about those things. And even little changes people can make. Have we gained weight in the past year? Can we inch off there and try to improve your health? And all of those things together, without medication a lot of the time can really decrease your risk.”
So, what can we do to prevent a potentially catastrophic illness like heart attack or stroke? Axelrad recommends quitting smoking, eating healthy food, and exercising.
Axelrad says, “Try to move around for 30 minutes at least five days a week and get your heart rate going. That’s what you want to do (even if it’s a brisk walk around your neighborhood?) Don’t care what you do. If you go and watch a YouTube video and dance, I couldn’t care less. You’re sweating, you’re moving, and your heart is beating and that’s perfect.”
And, if you are diagnosed with heart disease, you can still have quality of life.
“You can live for a very long time after one of these events,” she says. “It’s not a death sentence.”
As for alcohol, Axelrad says women are encouraged to keep drinks to one glass a day, and two during a night out. Alcohol before bed can interrupt sleep patterns.