health as it happens

Women & Heart Health: Moderation over the Holidays - WSAZ-TV

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After a missing out on so many celebrations because of the pandemic many families are planning on going big this year. Health experts caution women to be mindful of their heart health.

Angel Schneider suffered a heart attack at age 43. She says it was normal day, sitting on the couch with her daughter when a warm feeling spread across her chest, She told her husband what was happening, and he immediately thought “heart attack”.

Angel says, “He grabbed a couple of aspirin, told me to take it, chew it up and put it under my tongue. I thought -- I’m not having a heart attack. I’m 43! I had a heart cath and it showed I had two blockages. I had an 80% and a 70% blockage.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Dr. Noel Merz with the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center says, “Young women are suffering disproportionally from cardiovascular disease. It’s on the rise in young women compared to declines everywhere else.” Dr. Merz adds, “We have to remember the average American dies of cardiovascular disease with an average cholesterol levels. Women need to take care of themselves first so they can help others in the family. "

The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center has a new campaign to make women aware of the prevalence of heart disease and remind them, the warning signs are often different than those of men.

Dr. Merz says women suffering a heart attack can experience jaw pain, nausea, indigestion, unusual fatigue, dizziness, a shortness of breath or a backache. “The classic Hollywood heart attack of clutching your chest is more typical of a man,” says Dr. Merz.

Dr. Merz warns women to do what they can by not overindulging, reduce consumption of high sugary foods and alcohol. She also says do not smoke or allow people to smoke in your home, be active, and watch your stress levels.

“Be reasonable! Enjoy the time that we do have. We are doing better and we are going to be able to together with friends and family in the setting of vaccinations. Enjoy it in a healthy way so that we have plenty of years ahead of us,” says Dr. Merz.

Angel says she’s learned that lesson since her heart attack. “I now kind of shrink things down and decide what matters. You don’t have to go to every single holiday event. Think about what’s important to you, and always think about it’s not the presents under the tree, it’s the memories that we make together,” says Angel.

The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center has a list of talking points you can discuss with your doctor, and a way to calculate your ten year heart attack risk through some basic testing. You can find the information by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 WSAZ. All rights reserved.