Do your heart good

CDM-2013-Risk for heart disease

Fact: Cardiovascular disease kills more women than all cancers combined.

Fact: One in eight women aged 45 to 64 has heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and isn't something women should ignore since it is 80 percent preventable. There are simple lifestyle choices you can make to help prevent the disease, including stopping smoking, exercising frequently, changing your diet, and losing and maintaining weight.

The Women’s Heart Clinic with University of Minnesota Health Heart Care also offers an initial women’s heart health screening package, which includes:

  • 30-minute cardiovascular risk assessment with a nurse practitioner or physician assistant
  • 30-minute nutrition assessment with a registered dietitian
  • 30-minute physical activity assessment with a cardiac rehabilitation therapist
  • An electrocardiogram (EKG) and/or anklebrachial index (ABI), and lab work
  • A personalized cardiac risk assessment summary for you to keep

Before the initial visit, patients will be asked to complete a health history form, keep a diet log for a week and determine their goals for the process and the clinic. If, during the appointment, symptoms that are suggestive of heart disease are found or if the risk assessment falls into an intermediate or high-risk category, patients will be referred to a cardiologist.

Protect your heart
To protect your heart, it’s important to make your heart health a priority and understand the risk factors of the disease.

  • Family history. If you have a parent who has or had heart disease, you’re more likely to be at risk.
  • High blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure (above 140/90), your heart has to work harder and your risk for heart disease increases.
  • High cholesterol. Your risk for heart disease increases when your blood cholesterol level goes up.
  • Obesity. Even when you don’t have other risk factors, being overweight or obese raises your risk of heart disease, particularly if you have fat around your midsection (stomach area).
  • Metabolic syndrome. The risk for heart disease may be raised by having a combination of three or more of these symptoms — a large waistline, insulin resistance, low levels of “good” cholesterol, and elevated triglyceride levels.

Women's heart attack symptoms vary
Keep in mind that although the stereotypical portrayal of a heart attack is one with intense chest-clutching, desperate gasping for air followed by a person dropping motionless to the ground, not all heart attacks are like that, especially when it comes to heart disease in women.

Chest pain, including pressure, tightness or squeezing, happens in only 50 percent of women having a heart attack. Signs of a heart attack in women can also include:
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Pale or clammy skin
Learn more
If you would like more information on heart health or to schedule an appointment, call 612-365-5000. 
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