Ladies, are you high maintenance? I hope so. You need to take good care of yourself so you can live out your life feeling great and able to enjoy your families and loved ones.

Did you ever feel you just cannot do any more, drained and like you have given enough to those around you, and yet you are expected to continue. Stress! Oh my, what it can do to you. It can affect your heart and your entire body.

Do you know the signs and symptoms of heart disease for women? Knowing these may save your life or the life of someone you know. As clinical program coordinator, I have met many women who are not aware of cardiac event symptoms and have held off going to the emergency room, resulting in damage to their heart.

If you experience cardiac symptoms listed below, call 911. The sooner you get to a hospital in a controlled means of transportation, the quicker you can be helped and your life saved.

Please be aware of the following:

• Chest tightness, fullness, indigestion discomfort

• Jaw pain

• Pain in left shoulder with radiation to back

• Left neck pain with radiation

• Abdominal pain, vomiting

• Breaking out in a cold sweat

• Upper back pain

• Shortness of breath

• Unusual fatigue

• Feeling dizzy – light headed

Mayo Clinic lists the following cardiac risk factors for women:

• High cholesterol levels

• High blood pressure

• Diabetes

• Mental stress and depression

• Smoking

• Inactivity

• Menopause

• Broken heart syndrome

• Pregnancy complications

Heart disease needs to be taken seriously by everyone. Age does not matter. I personally lost a friend to a sudden heart attack at age 37. Another friend of mine went to the dentist due to jaw pain. It turns out her teeth were just fine. A thoughtful dentist referred her to a cardiologist and she ended up with a five vessel cardiac bypass. This was a lady who did a lot of swimming and bowling. Who would have thought? A 45-year-old lady told me she ended up with a cardiac catheterization and stent placement after ignoring her symptoms for two weeks (upper back pain). Someone else I know had indigestion for one week.

I have so many more stories. Please consider making the following lifestyle changes as outlined by the American Heart Association so you do not end up a statistic.

• Quit smoking

• Exercise on a regular basis

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean meats

• Know your risk for heart disease

• Reduce your stress as much as you can

If you do not know your risk for heart disease, consider a free Women’s Heart Health Screening at Mercer Bucks Cardiology (no obligation and no cost to your insurance).

• Newtown, PA – 215-860-3344, ext. 1254

• Lawrenceville, NJ – 609-895-1919, ext. 1254

• Robbinsville, NJ – 609-860-6677, ext. 1254

Nereida McCulley-Breustedt, LPN is the Clinical Program Coordinator at Mercer Bucks Cardiology.

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