How's Your Ticker?

How's Your Ticker?

How's Your Ticker?

Barbara Walters, one of the co-hosts on The View, is also known for her yearly television specials. This year her focus is on heart disease and the atypical symptoms that women experience

     
How's Your Ticker?
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It's that time of year again: time to think about and talk about all things heart. No, not the red lacey cutout hearts, or the hearts filled with jewelry and candy, but the kind that pumps your blood and keeps you alive. February isn't just about Valentine's Day anymore it's also about heart disease awareness and prevention. Very romantic.

Nobody ever expects to have a heart attack. But they happen, and statistically many people are a heartbeat away from disaster. You may think you’re too young, or too fit, or that you don’t fall into any of the high-risk categories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. You may even experience, yet choose to ignore, those pesky warning signs hoping they’ll just go away.  But they won’t; and for that reason heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.  It currently affects more than 60 million people and kills more than 900,000 people each year.    

So, with that being said, close your eyes and think about what a heart patient looks like.  Who are you thinking of?  An old, overweight, man?  Most people do, and that’s why heart disease is considered a “man’s disease” when in fact it affects far more women than men.  In the United States there are 42 million women living with some form of heart disease.  And every year more than 500,000 women die from it – that’s twice as many deaths as all cancers combined.  Scary. 

Heart disease is a considerable problem for women, and it’s a problem they often don't recognize until it is too late.  If you look at the reversal in mortality rates from heart disease in the United States almost all of the benefit is seen in men. For example, the number of men dying each year from a heart attack has steadily decreased every year since 1979. Over that same time period the number of fatal heart attacks among women has increased.  

Barbara Walters, 81, is probably the most well known woman to publicly battle and survive heart disease.  When Walters was diagnosed with a faulty heart valve in 2009 she says she was “surprised.” Walters had always led a healthy lifestyle - she ate well and she was very active.  Actually she was so healthy that she had never taken a sick day from work and experienced no symptoms prior to her diagnosis.  Lucky for Walters though, she had a doctor who was very thorough and insisted that she have an echocardiogram during her annual checkup. Her heart defect was discovered and last year she had open-heart surgery to replace the faulty valve and is now fully recovered.    

Walters, one of the co-hosts on The View, is also known for her yearly television specials.  This year her focus is on heart disease and, more specifically, the atypical symptoms that women experience. During the special she interviews many famous heart disease patients, President Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Robin Williams, Regis Philbin, and Charlie Rose. Ironically, no women… 

The two-hour special is appropriately called “A Matter Of Life And Death” because she says everyone on the show would be dead had their defects not been found and corrected in time. Walters says, “A Matter Of Life And Death isn’t just about how to live with heart disease once you’ve been diagnosed. We tell you how to prevent heart disease because 80% of heart disease is preventable.  And we tell you the difference between the symptoms for women and men.” 

As Walters mentioned women often experience different symptoms and warning signs. Like men, the most common heart attack symptom is pain or discomfort in the chest, however many women have heart attacks without experiencing any chest pain at all. Some of the most common symptoms women overlook are, breathlessness; pain in the neck, jaw, or upper back; nausea, vomiting or indigestion; unexplained sweating; sudden or overwhelming fatigue; and dizziness. Walters warns that ignoring these symptoms could be fatal and if you have experienced any of them you should seek medical attention immediately.  

With the estimated 42 million American women living with heart disease too many are unaware of the threat they face. Statistically 1 in 27 women will die of breast cancer, but nearly 1 in 2 women will die from heart disease. Heart disease is preventable and women can significantly reduce their risk if they have the information they need and know the questions to ask their doctors.  

Walters closes her special with, “If you are diagnosed with heart disease we want you to know that there is hope, because every day in operating rooms across the country, doctors miraculously bring dying hearts back to life using surgical procedures that were once unthinkable. Take advantage of the technology and the care that’s available because there’s no reason why a man or woman in this day and age should unexpectedly drop dead of a heart attack.”  Well said. Heart disease is A Matter of Life and Death.

 

Photo By:  Joella Marano


Stacy Matson, a health enthusiast from Southern California, regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

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Last Updated : Thursday, September 28, 2017