Heart disease kills more women than men and most people don't know that

Symptoms are different from men. It's not just about chest pains.

MURRAY, Utah (News4Utah) -- Most women do not know heart disease is the number one killer among women. It causes one in 3 deaths each year.
58-year-old Kaly Keslop of Kaysville, Utah, never thought she had a heart problem and ended up getting not one, but 2, heart transplants.

Heslop, heart transplant patient, "I went to the hospital thinking I had the flu. It wasn't the flu it was congestive heart failure."

3 days later, Kaly had a heart transplant. That was nearly 30 years ago, after she gave birth to her 4th child.

Then just last year, Kaly needed another heart.

"every day you wake up, it's a gift. Every day is a gift. I'm here because someone said 'yes' to donation. I'm here because of someone else."
Dr. Virginia Hebl, is a transplant cardiologist at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. She says, often times, there are no symptoms with heart disease.  And when there are symptoms, they are different from men. Instead of chest pains, women are more likely to experience:

Shortness of breath
Back or jaw pain
Lightheadedness or fainting
Lower chest pain
Extreme fatigue

Dr. Hebl, "the best prevention to attack those risk factors for heart disease are diabetes, high blood pressure high, cholesterol, obesity, quit smoking, stay active."

Dr. Kevin Campbell is a cardiologist, medical correspondent and CEO of a medical software company called PaceMate.
He wrote the book 'Women and Cardiovascular Disease: Addressing Disparities in Care' after he found out his young daughter had type one diabetes.

"I knew my child was one day going to have heart disease. I felt it was my mission to make sure women, physicians, and nurses and healthcare providers were educated to the risk women face to heart disease because I want someone there when I'm not there to advocate for her. More women than men die every single year of heart disease. It affects both genders equally. The problem is, we all think heart disease is a disease of men. It's not. Women's greatest health risk is heart disease. It's not uterine cancer or breast cancer. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined."

Dr. Campbell says, we've got to do better. Part of the problem he says is that women are busy taking care of everyone else in the family.
"they often put their own health at the bottom of the list."

Kaly, "pay attention to your heart health. Don't ignore it. Women need to know, if you are feeling off, go be checked and pay attention to your heart health."

Dr. Campbell, "as parents, women, children and spouses, we've got to make sure the women in our lives take time to put themselves first when it comes to healthcare."

Do you know what causes heart disease in women? What about the survival rate? Or whether women of all ethnicities share the same risk?


The fact is: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. 


But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men. What’s more: These facts only begin to scratch the surface.


There are several misconceptions about heart disease in women, and they could be putting you at risk. As part of National Heart Month in February, the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute is advocating for additional research and swifter action for women’s heart health for this very reason. 


Here are some common myths about heart disease: 


Myth: Heart disease is for men, and cancer is the real threat for women

Fact: Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease is the cause of one out of every three deaths. That’s roughly one death each minute.

Myth: Heart disease is for old people

Fact: Heart disease affects women of all ages.  For younger women, the combination of birth control pills and smoking boosts heart disease risks by 20 percent. And while the risks do increase with age, things like overeating and a sedentary lifestyle can cause plaque to accumulate and lead to clogged arteries later in life. But even if you lead a completely healthy lifestyle, being born with an underlying heart condition can be a risk factor.

Myth: Heart disease doesn’t affect women who are fit

Fact: Even if you’re a yoga-loving, marathon-running workout fiend, your risk for heart disease isn’t completely eliminated. Factors like cholesterol, eating habits and smoking can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and have high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. And while you’re at it, be sure to keep an eye on your blood pressure at your next check-up.

Myth: I don’t have any symptoms

Fact: Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Because these symptoms vary greatly between men and women, they’re often misunderstood. Media has conditioned us to believe that the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.

Myth: Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do about it

Fact: Although women with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, there’s plenty you can do to dramatically reduce it. Simply create an action plan to keep your heart healthy 

Because of healthy choices and knowing the signs, more than 670,000 of women have been saved from heart disease, and 300 fewer are dying per day. 


What’s stopping you from taking action?

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