Learn how you can remember the symptoms of heart disease. Watch this video.
Mellanie True Hills:
My symptoms were that I had shortness of breath and had pain in the left shoulder. My research has led me to come up with the word LIFE as an acronym to help women remember what the symptoms are, and it’s not just for women; men need to know these as well because some men have these symptoms, and they need to know it for their wives, their daughters, their mothers, their sisters, their employees, any women that’s likely to have it.
So LIFE is about, the L is about left pain. Pain in the left shoulder, the left arm, left jaw, left side of the back, or just somewhere on the left side of the body. So L is for left pain. The I is for indigestion or nausea, and that tends to be more severe indigestion than just from eating a spicy meal.
I have a friend who had indigestion one night, laid down to go to bed and couldn’t sleep. So she got up and slept in the Lazy Boy all night. At 5:30 in the morning she woke up her husband and said, "You know, I am not really feeling any better. Let's go to the hospital."
At the emergency room they said she had probably had a heart attack at about 2:00 a.m. and indigestion was the only symptom that she had. So you can have one or more of these symptoms.
So the F is for fatigue or tiredness and often it’s related to sleeplessness. As women, we know that we may have sleeplessness related to menopause, but it can also be related to our heart. A study funded by the American Heart Association found that about half of women heart attack survivors experience sleeplessness in the 30 days before their heart attack. So sleeplessness or tiredness or fatigue are also symptoms of heart attack for a woman.
And finally the E is for exertion or shortness of breath and I am often asked, "Well, I get winded after exercise. Is that what you’re looking for?" No. If you’re normally not winded and you are today, well maybe that’s an indication of something unusual, or if you’re gradually been getting worse with the exertion and shortness of breath, that may be an indication.
Let’s say you have to walk up some steps and you have to stop after four or five steps and rest, time to contact your doctor or maybe even the emergency room. So if women will remember the word LIFE, it can save their lives or that of a loved one.
What can I do to prevent heart disease?
You can reduce your chances of getting heart disease by taking these steps:
* Know your blood pressure. Your heart moves blood through your body. If it is hard for your heart to do this, your heart works harder, and your blood pressure will rise. People with high blood pressure often have no symptoms, so have your blood pressure checked every 1 to 2 years. If you have high blood pressure , your doctor may suggest you make some lifestyle changes, such as eating less salt (DASH Eating Plan) and exercising more. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help lower your blood pressure.
* Don't smoke. If you smoke, try to quit. If you're having trouble quitting, there are products and programs that can help:
o Nicotine patches and gums
o Support groups
o Programs to help you stop smoking
Ask your doctor or nurse for help. For more information on quitting, visit Quitting Smoking.
* Get tested for diabetes . People with diabetes have high blood glucose (often called blood sugar). People with high blood sugar often have no symptoms, so have your blood sugar checked regularly. Having diabetes raises your chances of getting heart disease. If you have diabetes, your doctor will decide if you need diabetes pills or insulin shots. Your doctor can also help you make a healthy eating and exercise plan.
* Get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels tested. High blood cholesterol can clog your arteries and keep your heart from getting the blood it needs. This can cause a heart attack. Triglycerides are a form of fat in your blood stream. High levels of triglycerides are linked to heart disease in some people. People with high blood cholesterol or high blood triglycerides often have no symptoms, so have your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked regularly. If your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are high, talk to your doctor about what you can do to lower them. You may be able to lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by eating better and exercising more. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol.
* Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises your risk for heart disease. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if you are at a healthy weight. Eat a healthy diet and exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Start by adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. Take a brisk walk on your lunch break or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
* If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink (one 12 ounce beer, one 5 ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5 ounce shot of hard liquor) a day.
* Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Lower your stress level by talking to your friends, exercising, or writing in a journal.
What does high cholesterol have to do with heart disease?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all parts of the body. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and cause blood clots. Cholesterol can clog your arteries and keep your heart from getting the blood it needs. This can cause a heart attack.
There are two types of cholesterol:
* Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called the "bad" type of cholesterol because it can clog the arteries that carry blood to your heart. For LDL, lower numbers are better.
* High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as "good" cholesterol because it takes the bad cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries. For HDL, higher numbers are better.
All women age 20 and older should have their blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked at least once every 5 years.
Heart Survivor, Author, and Speaker Mellanie is a heart survivor and the author of A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health & Longevity. After having a brush with death in emergency heart surgery, Mellanie now uses her second chance to coach individuals in creating healthy lifestyles and organizations in creating healthy, productive workplaces.
Heart disease is the #1 killer, and stroke is #3. In the US each day, we lose nearly 3,000 men and women to heart disease and stroke. Forty per cent of us will get, and die from, heart disease or stroke. But it is preventable, if you know what to do.
Women have different heart symptoms than men, and they're typically very subtle, so for women, the first symptom is frequently a heart attack. Knowing those symptoms can save your life.
Mellanie's mission is to spread awareness of how to save your own life. She provides a message of hope and encouragement, sharing how to take control, decrease stress, and protect against heart disease. Audiences consistently say, You changed my life.
To further this mission, Mellanie is the founder and CEO of the American Foundation for Women's Health.
Mellanie also works with organizations that want healthy, productive workplaces to decrease stress and keep employees healthy, including how to leverage technology and culture in doing so.
View Mellanie True Hills' Videos: