Joy Magazine

Are You at Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke?

One in three women in the United States has heart disease. Are you one of them? According to the American Heart Association, only 13 percent of women view heart disease as a personal threat and are unaware of their own risk factors.

"Women need to be treated just as aggressively for their cardiovascular risk factors as men because it is the number one killer of women," warns Dr. Kristin Linzmeyer, cardiologist with Cardiology Consultants in Medford. "It [cardiovascular disease] kills or affects more women than the next seven causes of death combined and that includes cancer."

Go Red For Women:

Become Empowered and Make a Difference

Advocacy, outreach and action are key elements of the national Go Red For Women movement sponsored by the American Heart Association.

"Go Red For Women is a call to action to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke," says Diane Raymond, American Heart Association regional director. More than that, it's a call to action to educate your friends, your daughter, your sister, your mother about what they can do to reduce their own risk.

Show your support for heart-healthy behavior and the Go Red For Women movement by participating in National Wear Red Day on February 1, 2008, by attending the Go Red For Women Lunch on February 20, and by living right every day of the year.

For more information, visit or call the Medford office of the American Heart Association at 541-779-2709.

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, lack of activity, smoking and family history are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease in both men and women.

The symptoms of heart disease may be the same for both men and women, including sudden crushing pain in the chest, radiating pain in the neck, jaw and arm. Dr. Linzmeyer warns: "If you're experiencing any symptoms that unusual and rather abrupt or rather sudden, if they seem like they are pretty profound, then you should seek attention in the emergency room." Extreme discomfort and chest pain are clear messages from your body that something is very wrong.

More often though, women will have less noticeable symptoms and so their heart disease will not be recognized even by their health provider. "Sometimes it's just shortness of breath without any discomfort or pain sensation," explains Dr. Linzmeyer. "Sometimes it's just nausea or a feeling of heartburn."

Exhaustion and fatigue at the end of the day might be normal on occasion, but pay attention if you see a gradual change in your abilities. "It might be that women find they can't be as active as they normally have been in the past, where they don't feel as energetic," explains Dr. Linzmeyer. "Where before they could hike up a hill without any problems, now they can barely get up there without getting real short of breath, they have to stop and catch their breath, they feel tremendously exhausted or tired." Listen to your body and at your next checkup, make sure you tell your health care provider what your body is saying.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the old adage goes and it's never too late to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. The first step is to know that you are at risk, and that's where the Go Red Heart CheckUp at can pay off in big health dividends. It takes just a few minutes to use the online calculator to enter your height, weight and waist size, lifestyle information such as how much you exercise and if you smoke, as well as your cholesterol and blood pressure. The Go Red Heart CheckUp will help you understand your risk of having a heart attack or cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years and will help you know what changes you can make to reduce your risk.

It can be a real wake-up call for women, according to the American Heart Association. The Go Red Heart CheckUp takes the major risk factors for heart disease into consideration and gives women a good idea of what's in store for them if they change nothing. This is a "CheckUp" no woman should miss.

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