By Supratim Banerjee MD, FACC of Comprehensive Cardiovascular Medical Group
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the main health problems in the United States that affects both men and women. In 2008, CHD caused nearly one of every six deaths in the U.S. Approximately every 25 seconds, an American will experience a coronary event, and approximately every minute, someone will die of one. The lifetime risk of developing CHD after 40 years of age is 49 percent for men, and 32 percent for women.
Since cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 health problem in our country, leading to very high physical and financial costs, prevention is the best treatment.
We should try to monitor and treat the risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, monitor your weight and avoid all tobacco products.
It is extremely important for all of us to be aware of the signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease. This can lead to early evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attacks, which is a major cause of death.
We have all seen the picture of a man grabbing his chest as a sign of heart attack. But women are also at a high risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. Both men and women can present similar symptoms, though women tend to have a more atypical presentation.
The typical heart attack symptoms are:
- Pressure like chest pain associated with shortness of breath or dizziness.
The atypical symptoms, especially in women are:
- Severe heart burn
- Left arm pain
- Jaw pain
Diabetics and elderly patients may not have chest pain; symptoms may be increased fatigue, shortness of breath or dizziness.
If you experience any of these symptoms, get immediate medical attention because an early treatment can save your life.