Women's heart health screening part of nationwide effort

Published 9:02 am Monday, September 1, 2003

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
Each year, more women die from heart disease than from the next seven causes combined.
That fact often comes as a shock to American women.
"We did a study in which we surveyed women," said Candy McGuyre, director of communications for Baptist Health Care.
"We found that women's perception of heart disease was very different from reality," she said. She said the biggest misconception was that breast cancer was the number one killer.
So Baptist Health Care helped launch Women's Heart Advantage, to change the attitudes women have toward heart disease, diagnosis and treatment.
In order to identify women who are at risk for heart disease, a free screening was held Aug. 21 at Atmore Community Hospital.
"We wanted to get the word out to the community that heart disease is women's number one health risk," said Karen Alexander, Heart First community relations coordinator.
The screening was part of a nationwide initiative to increase awareness about heart disease. It included a questionnaire, blood pressure and total cholesterol testing. No fasting was required.
About 135 women from the community came out to be tested, an impressive figure, according to Alexander.
"This was a really great turnout," she said. "We were very pleased with the response from Atmore."
The test results were mailed to the women tested, and, with their permission, also forwarded to their primary care physicians.
Alexander explained that step was taken so that if a woman had an unusual reading her physician could address it with her and they could decide what treatment options to pursue.
As the information about heart health evolves for women, things are changing, things like the blood pressure levels that are considered acceptable.
A blood pressure of less than 120/80 is now considered acceptable. Hypertensive is considered 160/100.
Risk factors singled out in the questionnaire portion of the screening include smoking, stress level, exercise, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Additionally, the signs and symptoms of heart attack may be different for women than for menand may include: chest discomfort,pain spreading through the jaw, neck, shoulder or arm,shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, indigestion, dizziness, unexplained weakness or fatigue and pain between the shoulder blades Medical experts suggest if you experience any of the symptoms, you seek medical treatment.

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