Ark La Texas In-Depth: Heart disease No.1 killer among women
When you think of heart disease, middle-aged men probably come to mind.
It's also the No. 1 killer of women in the United States and it can strike earlier in life than expected. That's why it's important to prevent the common disease by getting screened often.
February is the month to Go Red. Dana Smelser with CHRISTUS Health said women are Going Red for a very good reason.
"I know we hear a lot about cancers and other things, but heart disease really is a bigger problem for us," said Smelser.
A problem so big that The American Heart Association is flying in prominent speakers into places like Shreveport-Bossier to get their message across.
You might recognize Lucie Arnaz as the daughter of Lucille Ball, one of the most famous TV comedians in history.
Ball passed away unexpectedly in 1989 of heart disease.
Now her daugter, Lucie, wants to make sure it doesn't happen to you.
"If her death could help some other people take better care of themselves, then at least it's not for naught," said Arnaz.
Dr. Jonathan Davis with CHRISTUS Health said a large part of taking care of yourself is staying active.
"Prevention is the best medicine. It takes 30 minutes of walking five days a week. Just doing that alone reduces your chances of heart attack by 50 percent," said Davis.
He also recommends women stay on top of their numbers.
They should have a physician check their body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
Doing this can literally add years to your life.
"You'll live a rich full life and you can avoid any of these problems. Because this truly is a preventable problem, it takes knowing your numbers," said Davis.
And, it's crucial to know the symptoms.
Although prevention is the same for men and women, the way heart disease shows up can differ.
Instead of crushing pain in the heart, women may feel a squeezing or fullness anywhere in their chest or upper body.
They can also have shortness of breath, sweating, fatigue, and nausea.
Arnaz said, like many women, her mother always put her own health last.
She was so busy taking care of the family, and the business, and the show. I think she neglected her health a lot. She didn't stop stressing out about things and relax enough. It's good advice even though she wasn't able to follow it herself," said Arnaz.
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