500,000 Women per Year is Too Many!

By - liz
02.05.24 12:18 PM

Every five minutes, four women in America die of heart disease, according to the NIH. That adds up to 500,000 women each year.

If that fact surprised you, here are some others that may shock you:
      • Women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack;
      • Women are more likely to die after a procedure such as a stent or a balloon angioplasty;
      • Women are more likely than men to have another heart attack within five years;
      • Women don’t get the same screening, preventive treatment, or life-saving medications or procedures in the ER when they are admitted for heart trouble!!!  Seriously???!!!
      • 64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. In 2/3 of women who suffer a heart attack, the first sign of heart disease is the heart attack.

When we feel good it’s hard to imagine that we might be felled by something like a silent heart attack. We think because we exercise some, eat pretty well, and can still get up the stairs without passing out that we are not likely to have heart disease.

The above statistics mean more of us have now or will have at some point, a heart issue — even if it’s “only” hypertension or high blood pressure.

Newsflash: Heart disease does not happen overnight. It takes years to develop. Symptoms may be nonexistent.

The root of heart issues can be summed up in one word: Stress. And much of that stress comes from caregiving… being “on” 24/7. If we were all together in a room, I would see a lot of heads nodding, because those women who are caregivers know what kind of stress this is. But few realize the true cost of this stress to their health.

One woman with whom I spoke some time ago said it best when she remarked that she didn’t think twice about canceling her own physician appointment in order to accommodate a medical appointment for her father for whom she was a caregiver. There are more than 65 million caregivers in America today, and two out of three of them are women. But that is not all. The majority of these caregivers are married and have full-time jobs. And 37% have a child or grandchild under 18 years of age living with them. No surprise that caregivers’ health care costs are significantly higher because caregivers are sicker. And they don’t practice good wellness habits. Caregivers smoke more, drink more alcohol, and get fewer preventive screenings. Ditto that “good wellness habits” thing. Tragically, many marriages are adversely affected as well.

There is not a quick fix to this health risk that women caregivers seem to uniquely have. There is no one size fits all, but there are some steps that all women – not just the caregivers – should take:
      1. Find what makes you happy and go there…frequently.
      2. Schedule a wellness visit with your primary care physician – now.
      3. Ask about what preventive screenings or vaccines you should have on your calendar.
      4. Get active… walk more and farther, and do it five days a week. My Irish grandmother used to say that this “blew the stink off ya.” I agree!!!
      5. Eat healthily… you need good sources of protein and lots of greens in your diet.
      6. Get enough quality sleep… about eight hours a night.
      7. If you smoke, quit; if you text and drive, quit; if you drink, monitor your alcohol consumption… or quit. Your liver will be soooo happy!
      8. Get enough of snuggles! And hugs! And Big O! You need all of the oxytocin you can get to relieve the stress… and give your adrenals a rest.
      9. Find what makes you happy and go there… frequently. I have repeated this for a reason.

And I probably need to add that you should start working on this list now because procrastinating on your health is not an option.