Heart disease is the number one killer of woman in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women alike. Yet, for more than two decades, more women have died from it.
This staggering statistic came about because the healthcare community is more focused on significant relatable diseases like breast and ovarian cancer. Most women present themselves with atypical symptoms; they do not typically suffer from classic, chest-gripping heart attack pains.
Heart disease symptoms most typical to women include nausea, shortness of breath or jaw pain. One clinical example I personally experienced in the Emergency Room, was a woman complaining of severe right-sided lower jaw pain. She had previously had her teeth examined by her dentist, who found nothing. The pain worsened and sought out the ER for further evaluation. Once there, blood tests and an electrocardiogram revealed that she had suffered a heart attack and that the typical “chest pain” symptoms, had presented themselves in her jaw. These facts are frightening and very real!
In 2002, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and partner organization created “The Heart Truth” campaign to educate and inform women about the prevalence and risk of heart disease; it is an invaluable resource for women. If you are interested in getting involved in educating woman and their families about this often silent killer, please go to “The Heart Truth” website to learn more about what you can do to help.
Written by Julie Benton BSN, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, GNP-BC