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Know your numbers!

Know your numbers – survive

Despite increasing awareness, only 54 percent of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Even more disturbing is that almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

What’s happening?

Cholesterol, a fatty material, combines with calcium and other substances in the blood to form plaque, which can collect in arteries, harden and cause a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a major cause of heart attack.

Fainting could be a sign of pulmonary embolism

In the past, fainting had not been considered high on the list of signs and symptoms pointing to clots, also called pulmonary embolisms, which can lead to cardiac arrest and death. But researchers in the PESIT (Pulmonary Embolism in Syncope Italian Trial) study used a diagnostic workup to assess the presence of the embolism and found it was present in about one out of six, or 18 percent, of the patients.

Although there is clear evidence that women experience ischemic heart disease (IHD) differently from men because gender differences, significant gaps in scientific knowledge of the risks, mechanisms, assessment, interventions and symptoms for women with IHD remain.

Tremendous progress has been made in building the science of how women experience IHD, but much remains to be done to translate the science into practice and education, and to continue to expand the science.


Lifestyle habits such as not smoking, regular exercise, diet and weight management play a role in reducing heart disease risk. But so does genetics. Research published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” found there might be a way to at least partially help those people with high genetic risk.

Across four studies with more than 55,000 individuals, researchers found that among participants with a high genetic risk for cardiovascular disease, maintaining a “favorable” lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50 percent lower relative risk than those with an “unfavorable” lifestyle.

Not surprisingly, the “unfavorable” lifestyle included the usual suspects: smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, diabetes and poor diet.

Danger for women

We want women to “Know Your Numbers”. By that, we mean women should know the numbers that can indicate a risk for heart disease and stroke, and work to manage that risk, if needed. They are: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and BMI (body mass index).

Cardiovascular diseases claim the life of one woman every 80 seconds in the United States, but the truth is these diseases are 80 percent preventable by education and action. Remember: all women should know their numbers to reduce risk.

Take the ‘risk factor’ quiz 

During February, FirstMed is offering a special price on our cardiovascular risk assessment designed to give a basic result of your heart health and uncover possible risks that may require additional monitoring


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