Carrie Fisher, 60, was on a transatlantic flight from London to Los Angeles when she suffered what most experts believe was a heart attack. Even though we think of heart attacks and heart disease as diseases in men, heart disease is the number 1 killer of American women over the age of 65. And, as in the case of Carrie Fisher, if a woman has a heart attack, she is more likely to die than a man.
Debbie Reynolds, her 84-year-old mother, died a day after Carrie of a presumed stroke. Reynolds was reported to have had a number of previous “small” strokes.
Heart disease and stroke are responsible for far more deaths in women than all cancers combined. Despite this, there is still a myth that heart disease is a man's disease.
What are some causes of heart disease and stroke?
The vital arteries in your body, which supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscles and the brain, can narrow because of fatty materials collecting along their walls. That can cause calcium deposits (plaques), which in turn, cause the blood flow to be restricted or even completely blocked. This can then cause a piece of plaque (clot) to break off (rupture). If the plaque travels towards the heart it causes a heart attack. If it travels to the lungs it causes a pulmonary embolism and if it moves to the brain it can cause a stroke.
Some causes of coronary heart disease (CHD) include high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.
Heart attacks and strokes are actually preventable diseases – not through pills or medical procedures - but through your lifestyle. It’s much more important to learn how to prevent (or even reverse) the narrowing of your arteries through your diet, than to just assume strokes and heart attacks won’t happen to you.
If you need more of an impetus to make a drastic lifestyle change than just reading this post, there are a few simple tests you can have done. Blood tests to measure your total cholesterol plus your LDL and your HDL are important as is a reading of your blood pressure. Other blood tests to check your level of inflammation (c-reactive protein) and your homocysteine levels are important, too. Of course, if you smoke, you must quit. If you are obese, you must lose weight. If your waist circumference is over 32 inches, you must shrink it.
To find out what the optimal "test scores” are, you can check out the Healthy Is A Habit website.
Please make it a priority to get healthy, so you don’t suddenly leave your family without you!
© 2007-2017 Melinda Coker
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