A common myth is that heart disease is a man’s disease. While it is the number one killer among men, it is a bigger cause of death than all cancers combined in women. One organization is bringing women’s heart health to the forefront in order to educate and potentially save more women from heart disease.
As a reference point, a woman dies about 80 seconds from heart disease–about 400,000 per year. What may be surprising, is that 80% of heart disease cases are preventable.
One of the biggest obstacles that inhibits women from not preventing heart disease is the amount of knowledge they have on the subject.
Many men and women believe that heart disease and heart attacks occur identically in any two people. However, heart disease and heart attack symptoms appear differently in men and women.
One woman and the university she works at are bringing women’s heart health to the forefront the old fashioned way–by reaching one woman at a time.
Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk works at the Ohio State University College of Nursing and is working to have communities and colleges around the country host biometric screenings, beginning with young women.
Since 2013, Melnyk and her team screened 54,000 Americans by teaming up and reaching out to 150 other health sciences colleges and community organizations.
They also partnered up with the Women’s Heart Alliance and shared their model of how to conduct heart checks with hospitals and nursing schools in Nashville, Tennessee so they could also screen their young women and mothers.
The screenings are quite simple–they include taking height, weight, body mass index, and heart rate, as well as their blood pressure. In certain individuals, a lipid panel and stress test are done if they have specific risk factors for heart disease.
Melnyk stated, “We also must continue to encourage students and young people to adopt healthy lifestyles: Be active, eat healthy, avoid tobacco and manage stress. Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable with these four healthy lifestyle behaviors. This model needs to be replicated so we can reach greater numbers of women.”
Screenings are important but bringing women’s heart health to the forefront also means educating each woman about how to reduce risk factors and stay healthy and signs of heart problems.
The average woman who suffers from a heart attack waits 54 hours to go to the hospital. That’s because they do not recognize the symptoms of one since they differ from a man’s symptoms.
With proper education, diet, and exercise, many lives can be saved yearly. Teach the women in your life the importance of staying healthy and getting a screening done.