Today is 'Go Red For Women Day'. An event designed to draw attention to the number one killer of women ...heart disease. In tonight's Medical Matters, Ashley Anderson tells us that the classic signs of cardiovascular disease in females are not necessarily what they are in males.
Rene Simmons is a prime example. She says, "When I sat down on the side of the bed, I couldn't get a deep breath ... It was nothin' no pain, I just couldn't get a deep breath."
But later at the hospital, all the tests came back normal.
Rene says then it happened again.... "And then I had another attack in the emergency room where I felt like my breath was just ... I couldn't get my breath again."
What she had was an unstable plaque buildup and by pass surgery took place the next day.
Although Rene is in the health care field, she never suspected a heart problem.
Dr. Ken Wool is a cardiologist who says, "Women are more likely than men to have either atypical chest pains, not the fullness or the tightness. They're more likely to have shortness of breath, fatigue or upper abdominal pain."
Rene says she also has a friend who had atypical symptoms, "She had pain in her arm and that was all."
Rene is not a smoker or overweight, but she does have high cholesterol.
Women like Rene' have a 10 year grace period over men, thanks to estrogen.
Dr. Wool says, "But once women get post menopausal, then they catch up with men and they actually surpass men."
But there are precautions women can take to keep from becoming a statistic, according to Wool, "Diet, exercise, controlling high blood pressure, diabetes."
The one risk factor we can not control is age ... The older we get the more at risk we become... So it's important to follow a preventive regimen."