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Nearly half of women don't know the signs of a heart attack – Get the facts on Medical Rounds

January 27, 2016
Medical Rounds

Dr. Heba Wassif of Baystate Medical Practices – Northampton Cardiology was the first guest on a new collaboration between Baystate Health and Western Mass News called Medical Rounds. The weekly Medical Rounds, which began on Jan. 26, is broadcast in the 5:30 p.m. portion of the Tuesday night news and will focus on family health and wellness and breakthrough technologies. Each session will be followed by an interactive live chat. Last night’s discussion focused on women and heart health.

Q. Do you think women over the years have been listening to the vast public education campaign on heart disease and the dangers associated with poor heart health?

A. It has certainly improved within the last two decades, especially in terms of women’s awareness of heart disease as their number one killer. Climbing from 30% to now 56% in awareness, it is clear that women are becoming more educated about heart health, however it is important to note that 44% are still lacking knowledge. As a result, education surrounding heart health needs to continue among women and the providers who care for them.

Q. What are the warning signs of heart problems that are specific to women and when should they seek help?

A. Heartburn, especially in African-American women, as well as feeling light-headed, dizzy, fatigued, and short of breath are some unique warning signs to women. They also share symptoms common to men, such as chest pressure and arm, neck, and back pain. We know that only 65% of women will call 911 when experiencing symptoms of a heart problem, so it’s important for all women to be aware of the warning signs and seek help immediately.

Q. What should women do to improve their health and help prevent heart attacks?

A. The good news is heart disease is preventable by following life’s “simple 7” – controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing your sugar intake, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life – including knowing your body mass index and monitoring your weight – and quitting smoking. Remember, it’s never too late to start taking these healthy steps.

Learn more! Join us on Sunday, 2/14, for a free lecture about Women & Heart Disease, featuring Dr. Heba Wassif, Dr. Thea Calkins, and Dr. Josephine Chou Cantanzaro.