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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Friday, February 03, 2012

February is National Heart Health Month

While much early research on heart disease was done on men, more recent data is revealing just how differently heart problems affect women. Here's what you need to know.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And while nearly the same number of women die from heart disease every year as men, many Americans still mistakenly perceive heart problems as a “man’s disease.” In fact, only half of women surveyed by the American Heart Association (AHA) correctly identified heart disease and heart attacks as the leading cause of death among women, according to a report released in 2010.

An earlier AHA survey revealed that a third of women remain unaware of symptoms, treatment, and risk for heart disease. So continues a negative cycle: If women don’t consider themselves at risk, they may ignore early warning signs and end up at even greater risk for developing serious heart disease. Making matters worse, heart disease tends to hit women later in life than it does men, so women’s bodies may be less physically able to recover

Signs of a heart attack for a woman:

While pressure, tightness, and squeezing in the chest are all telltale signs of heart attack in men, many women don’t know they could have a heart attack without having any of those classic symptoms. According to the AHA, a woman having a heart attack is more likely to feel symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Women often don’t think they’re having a heart attack and waste time before calling an ambulance, or worse, don’t seek medical treatment at all. It’s important to know the symptoms and get to the hospital fast.

Emotions play a big part:

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found a link between depression and heart problems and death. In women with a history of depression, they found that the risk for cardiovascular disease, an overarching term used interchangeably with heart disease, was three times higher than in men.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Depressed women may be more likely to pick up unhealthy habits (like skipping the gym, eating poorly and smoking) to deal with their emotions. Additionally, the AHA recommends depression screening as part of risk evaluation for preventing heart disease in women because depression may affect whether women follow their doctor’s advice, according to an AHA media release about the guideline changes.

Smoking Effects

Cigarette smoking is 25 percent more likely to lead to heart disease in women than in men, according to a recent study published in The Lancet. CDC statistics from 2008 counted 21.1 million female smokers.

While the study authors couldn’t determine whether the gender difference in smoking rates and heart disease risk was biological or behavior-related, they speculated that women’s bodies may absorb more carcinogens from smoking the same number of cigarettes as men. A physiological answer would make sense, given the regular yearly increase in risk they found for women compared with men

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