Piedmont cardiologist says Heart Disease bigger threat to women


From Special Reports

Every fall, the nation goes pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. Thousands march, fundraise and sport pink clothing to call attention to the disease.

Yet little will be said about heart disease, which kills more women than lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer combined, according to Bukola Olubi, M.D., a cardiologist with Piedmont Heart Institute.

“Women, often caregivers, are too busy taking care of others and don’t personalize the seriousness of heart disease, believing it is something to worry about later in life,” says Olubi. “But heart disease is a now problem. Later may be too late.”

It is estimated that one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime while one in three women will have heart disease in her lifetime. Heart disease poses a particular threat to women in Georgia, which has the 12th highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country.

In the state of Georgia, heart disease and stroke account for 28.2 percent of all female deaths, according to the American Heart Association. That’s the equivalent of about 27 deaths each day.

“Almost half of women having a heart attack do not experience typical heart disease symptoms and are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, right arm pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness or unusual fatigue,” says Olubi.

Putting Georgia women more at risk for heart disease and stroke is lifestyle, especially eating habits. More than half of all women in Georgia are obese and overweight, according to the American Heart Association. Additionally, over 15 percent of women smoke cigarettes – another risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

“To decrease their risk, women should control their weight and cholesterol with a low fat, low cholesterol, and low salt diet, be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day and avoid heavy alcohol use,” recommends Olubi. “It is also important women have regular medical check-ups and make sure their doctor is evaluating their risk for heart disease.”

For women who do not have a pre-existing heart issue, Piedmont offers a screening inclusive of a physical exam, lab work and complete health history. Women who participate in the screening receive a comprehensive heart health report they can take home with detailed recommendations and next steps.

For more information or to sign up for the women’s heart health screening at Piedmont, visit piedmontred.org.

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