Women’s Heart Disease
The Silent Killer That is Echoing Vociferously Across the Nation…
By Tawanda Blake.
The morning was normal, and filled with our mundane routine of dragging ourselves out of bed to start the day. I turned my surround sound system up to forty, and then wakened the children up for school. We began our regular chatter and updates of the previous evening’s festivities while I fixed me a cup of coffee. The phone rang a little after 6am. I answered the call because the number was all too familiar. Once I said hello, there was silence, and then a series of muffled sobs. I repeatedly screamed into the receiver, “hello?!” frantic because of what I was hearing and unable to wait on a response. One shrill statement accompanied by mournful cries changed my world and our lives forever…. “Angel is in the bathroom floor, and she’s cold, we can’t wake her!”
My sister, Leeomia (Angel) Partlow died at the age of 36-years-old because of an undiagnosed case of ischemic heart disease. In August 2012, seven months prior to her death, she stayed overnight at the local hospital in the county that she resided in with the presumed findings from healthcare officials of panic attacks after being escorted by ambulance because of an episode of sharpened unrelieved chest pain, and cold sweats. This silent killer claimed her innocent life, March 5, 2013. Already battling chronic hypertension, should her routine providers have screened her for the deadly disease and explained the staggering statistics and outcome to her. How senseless is a death when the warning signs were over looked by even her primary care providers? Could more research and investigation into her frequent occurring symptoms prolong her life? Is insurance an issue that prevents further examination when the symptoms are there all along. My question to our community is how many more deaths of our loved ones will it take before we unite and take a stand against the carelessness, and negligence of others? The time is now to take matters into our own hands and fight for the next mother, sister, and cousin against this widespread killer.
Your body speaks to you in a language that only you can understand. Listen to it, and recognize the apparent signs. Don’t take “no, there is nothing wrong with you,” for an answer from your physician if you are still having problems. Instead, ask for the test, request the pathology findings, educate yourself, and ask for more help if you feel dissatisfied with the service or outcome. Do not let your age become a prejudice factor; you are not too young, and can have a heart attack at any age. Be proactive, and don’t leave unless you understand the risk that you are up against. This can result in an expanded life or an unexpected death. I never thought that I’d be growing old without my sister, or left with the guilty halo that invades my mind, “was there something more that I could have done, other than dismiss what was evident?” So, I am asking, what are you willing to do for yourself as well as the next person so that this situation does not happen to you?
American Heart Disease:
About 600, 000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. That is 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were men.
In 2012, 56 percent of the women identified heart disease as the leading cause of death compared to 30 percent in 1997.
In 1997, women were more likely to cite cancer than heart disease as the leading killer (35 percent versus 30 percent; but in 2012, only 24 percent cited cancer.
In 2012, 36 percent of black women and 34 percent of Hispanic women identified heart disease as a top killer. The awareness that white women had in 1997 was at a 33 percent.
Women 25-34 years old had the lowest awareness rate of any age group at 44 percent.
Deaths vary by race:
African Americans 24%
American Indians or Alaskan Natives 18%
Asian or Pacific Islanders 23.2%
Not all stories end tragically:
Meet Tamara Dunham, challenged with a heart attack at the age of 36:
“My struggle began shortly after the birth of my youngest child. Stuck in a stress-filled job, coupled with the day -to -day headaches and poor eating habits all lead to the day that would change me forever. Early on the morning of July 20, 2010, I would awaken to a pain that literally knocked me out of my bed. I called for my husband but he did not hear me so I lay on the floor and prayed for enough strength to get back in the bed. I managed to make it back in my bed only to wake up a few hours later hurrying around my home preparing for my day ahead. I dressed and headed to the Starbucks less than one block from my home. As I walked into the store and ordered my drink, I had no idea that I would not get to enjoy the Chai Latte that I had ordered. Upon exiting the store, I was struck with a crippling pain that I often compare to as an Elephant sitting on my chest and not being able to breathe or talk. At 36 years of age, I Tamara Dunham was suffering a heart attack. The weeks leading up to this very moment had given me the tale-tell signs of what was to come. I had pain in my right arm, heartburn that was never ending, headaches, and bouts of nausea. But, like so many of us, I ignored all of those signs and took over the counter remedies as well as failed to consult my doctor. None of this was crystal clear until the Emergency Room physician asked me about these things. The next two days I would remain in the hospital learning what I would need to do to keep this from occurring again.
I was among one of the “ Blessed” few, because I was given an opportunity to turn it around. However, I will be the first to admit changing habits that were taught to me as a child are so difficult. At the time of my heart attack, I tipped the scales at 267 pounds, too heavy for my five foot, and four inch frame. My blood pressure was dangerously high and I was sedentary. I did not exercise, and eating right was a figment of my imagination. Today, I weigh in at 193 pounds and I am still on the path to reach my goal weight. What I am most appreciative of is that I did it without surgery. The basic remedy for my problem was reversing the things I had done to get to that point, I make better eating choices, and exercise is essential.”
The typical heart disease myths:
Men are more prone to have heart disease than women (False)
Because I exercise, I cannot get it. (False)
There is heart disease in my family, so I am already doomed (False) be proactive.
Heart Disease does not affect young people (False)
I don’t have any symptoms. (Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms. Symptoms change between men and women and are misunderstood. Women are more than likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, /vomiting and back or jaw pain.)
It is Imperative that you know the warning signs:
Chest Pain or discomfort.
Upper body, back pain or discomfort
Shortness of breath.
Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.
High Risk Factors:
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Overweight and Obesity
Excessive Alcohol Use
Protect Your Heart:
Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol will reduce your risk of heart disease.
Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on medication
Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt; in total fat, and cholesterol; and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Take a brisk (quick paced) 10 minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
Quit smoking, or don’t smoke.
The Wise WiseWoman program is administered through the CDC’s division for Heart Disease and Stroke prevention (DHDSP). The WiseWoman provides low-income, underinsured, or uninsured women with chronic disease risk factor screening, lifestyle intervention, and referral services in an effort to prevent cardiovascular disease. (The priority range is women aged 40- 64 years old)Visit http://www.cdc.gov/wisewoman/ , http://www.goredforwomen.org; www.cdc.gov/tobacco(/tobacco); www.smokefree.gov(http://www.smokefree.gov; or http://www.cdc.gov/other/disclaimer.html.; American Stroke Association http://www.strokeassociation.org/HEARTORG; HeartHub for patients http://www.hearthub.org/; My American Heart For Professionals http://my.americanheart.org/;Scientific Sessions, http://www.scientificsessions.org/; Stroke Conference, http://www.strokeconference.org/; You’re the Cure, http://www.yourethecoure.org/; global programs, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Global-Strtageis-Pages UCM 312090 SubHomePage.Jsp;Shop Heart http://www.shopheart.org/
If you can change today than do it, because for some, tomorrow is no longer an option. Make the difference today.
In Loving Memory of Leeomia (Angel) Lucile Partlow 03/05/2013