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Q&A: Heart disease kills more women than cancer

Dr. Shyla High, a cardiologist in Dallas, answered questions about why such a large percentage of women suffer from heart disease. High, who is affiliated with Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, recently authored “Why Most Women Die — How Women Can Fight Their No. 1 Killer: Heart Disease.”
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: March 6, 2013
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The American Heart Association reports that heart attack signs in women including:

Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

What can women do to help prevent heart disease?

The best way to help prevent heart disease is to exercise, eat a healthy diet and not smoke.

“It's never too late to get on the heart healthy highway,” High said. “In your early to mid-adult years, it's important to know your numbers — your blood pressure, your cholesterol and whether you have pre-diabetes.”

Most Americans do not get enough exercise, even though it plays a critical role in a person's mood, ability to fall asleep, intimacy and weight control.

High said it's important to find an exercise routine that fits you, whether that be using a workout tape at home, walking outdoors or joining a gym.

“You can't have the body you want if you're sitting on the body you have,” High said.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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