By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women over the age of 35. One in two women will die from it, while one in 35 women die from breast cancer.
That was the emphasis made at the Women’s Healthy Heart Luncheon held in Imperial last Thursday. The good news is that women can do several things to prevent heart disease.
Traci Hoatson, a nurse practitioner, and Cheryl Childers, a registered nurse, both with the Nebraska Heart Institute in North Platte, addressed about 130 women at the luncheon.
Types of cardiovascular disease include coronary artery disease, strokes, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease and congenital defects.
Men survive heart attacks better than women, Childers said.
“We’re busy taking care of everyone else,” she pointed out. Women wait four hours longer than men to seek medical attention.
Forty-four percent of women die as a result of their first heart attack, compared to 27 percent of males. Sixty-three percent of sudden deaths in women occur without prior symptoms.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include a family history, age (men older than 45 and women older than 55), hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus.
“You can’t change your family history or age,” Hoatson noted, “but you can change your blood pressure or cholesterol levels.”
She pointed out that risk factors include physical inactivity, tobacco abuse, obesity and overweight, stress, excessive alcohol use and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes a waist circumference larger than 35 inches, high triglycerides, an HDL (good) cholesterol level lower than 50, high blood pressure and fasting glucose of over 110 milligrams.
The key to fighting heart disease, Childers said, is to take a positive, proactive approach. Avoid tobacco, be more active and choose good nutrition.
“The choices you make during the day affect your outcome. They determine the 70-80 year old woman you’ll be,” she said.
She said many women feel that a heart attack isn’t the end of the world and they’ll survive it. Childers said a stroke is a different story.
“What’s worse than dying is living and not being able to do what you want to do” due to the loss of limb use, speech or brain, she said.
During the luncheon, which was sponsored by Chase County Community Hospital, Imperial Beef and Imperial Super Foods, women were able to have their blood pressure, body mass index, heartbeat rate and blood oxygen levels tested.
The luncheon included heart healthy food served by Chase County Schools’ Pro Start class and several door prizes.