Heart disease is a killer that strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. While one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease claims the lives of one in three. That’s roughly one death each minute. Any woman can get heart disease, and the signs and symptoms can be very different than those seen in men.
On June 8, the DMC joined the American Heart Association to raise money for research that will help save lives and prolong others. The Heart Walk was extremely successful this year: more than 10,000 walkers from 100 companies raised $1,300,000. That was $70,000 more than last year. This research goes to help creating new milestones in heart disease treatment. Yet public education about the importance of knowing the symptoms of a heart attack hasn’t kept pace, especially among women.
Interventional cardiologist Cindy Grines, MD, of the DMC Cardiovascular Institute explains, “Most people believe the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Women might not have chest pain. If they do, they might call it an achy, tight or ‘heavy’ feeling instead of pain. The pain might even be in the back between the shoulder blades, instead of the chest. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.”
For those of you who walked and/or raised money for the 2013 Heart Walk, your Awards Party is Thursday, August 8 at the Joe Louis Arena, at 6:30 p.m. You have earned respect and the gratitude of all of us who treat patients with heart disease every day.
Please become familiar with the symptoms of a heart attack. It’s something you can do for those who love you. We hope you never do, but if you need to be treated for a heart attack, the DMC has a world-class Cardiovascular Institute. We are “always there” to help you. It’s your life. It’s our life’s work.
I look forward to your comments.
Iris A. Taylor, PhD, RN
President, DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital