Health Check: Women & Heart Disease

It is the leading cause of death for women: one in four will die from Heart Disease. But as Serese Cole tells us in this month's Health Check, being aware of the symptoms and risks unique to women - as well as making some heart healthy lifestyle changes - can protect your heart and possibly save your life.

For weeks Tammy Ruskamp had symptoms.

"I thought it was just a real bad case of heartburn, " said Ruskamp.

By the time she got to the ER - she was in pain, sweating - and had a heart attack.

Dr. Michael Dehning says the challenge is for women to put their own health first. Knowing the risks and symptoms is a good start.

"They can have numbness in their chest area, in the arms, anything in the upper chest and back...a woman may just have extreme fatigue, being short of breath maybe nausea - maybe back pain, " said Dehning.

Because many of those symptoms are vague - he recommends...

"If a woman has something that's new and that's different that she can't explain that's she's not accustomed to - she should really see her physician."

Serese Cole, "If you don't want to end up in the hospital, there are a few things you can do the reduce for Heart Disease, First if you smoke, now's the time to stop. If you drink, you should limit your intake - talk with your doctor about what's best for you and it's a good idea to check the scale every now and then to make sure your maintaining a healthy weight."

"It's really made me take a look at what I can do from now on. I have gotten on a regular exercise program, I really watch what I eat," said Ruskamp.

Just what doctors want from all women - to be aware and take charge of their heart health.

Some women are more at risk for Heart Disease than others.
As women get older, especially after menopause- their risk increases.
African American and Hispanic women also have a greater risk - along with women with a family history.

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