Heart Disease: Number One Killer Of Women [AUDIO]
It's Heart Health Awareness Month and heart disease is not only the number one killer of men, but women as well.
A woman is six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer. Family history and age may be among the top two risk factors, but there are many more that are preventable.
"Smoking is the most preventable risk factor there is," said Dr. Liliana Cohen, Cardiologist at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. "Increased cholesterol is also another risk factor as is being overweight, high blood pressure and diabetes. Every woman should be aware of what their cholesterol level is and what their target cholesterol level is. Same thing with blood pressure."
Heart disease tends to present itself differently in women as well. "Sometimes they'll complain of nausea or indigestion. They'll say they have reflux symptoms or just an overall feeling of fatigue," said Cohen. "I always urge women to listen to their bodies. If they notice a change, that should be a clue to them to seek medical attention."
The risk of heart disease increases somewhat after menopause. "The hormones that are present during regular menstrual cycles may have some type of protective factor, however, that's not to say that you can't have heart disease before then. In fact, 10,000 women under the age of 40 die of heart disease," said Cohen. "The best thing you can do is take care of your body, know the risk factors and keep them in check."