Archive for the ‘heart attack’ Tag

February is American Heart Month   Leave a comment

February is American Heart Month. Learn about heart disease in women and what you can do to keep a healthy heart.

Get Informed: Facts on Women and Heart Disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States.
  • Some conditions and lifestyle choices increase a person’s chance for heart disease, including diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
  • High blood pressure, high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. LDL is  considered the “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking will reduce your chances for heart disease.


While some women have no symptoms of heart disease, others may experience heavy sharp chest pain or discomfort, pain in the neck/jaw/throat, or pain in the upper abdomen or back. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and not diagnosed until a woman has signs or symptoms including:

  • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest.
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
  • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.
Stethoscope with plastic heartHealthy Hearts

Heart disease is largely preventable.
Listen to CDC’s Dr. Bowman discuss ways to prevent heart problems.
[00:04:06 minutes]

What You Can Do for Heart Health

You can lower your chance of heart disease and a heart attack by taking simple steps.

  • Eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Exercise regularly. Adults needs 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week, and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.
  • Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
  • Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women. Do not drink at all if you are pregnant.
  • Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Manage any medical condition you might have. Learn the ABCS of heart health. Keep them in mind every day and especially when you talk to your health provider:
    • Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it
    • Blood pressure control
    • Cholesterol management
    • Smoking cessation


Women’s heart attack symptoms are confusing   Leave a comment

Not from Alice OR Power Surge but important information for women.

/ Friday, November 13, 2015

DEAR DR. ROACH: My question is about symptoms for women’s heart attacks. I have always heard that symptoms for women can be much different from men’s. Instead of the chest-clutching, sharp pain that men can have, I have read that women’s symptoms can be any of these: heartburn or indigestion; pain in the jaw, neck, shoulders, back, one or both arms; fatigue and troubled sleep; dizziness and nausea; or extreme anxiety. Are you KIDDING me? I am a healthy, active 63-year-old woman. I have had all of these symptoms at one time or another. If I acted every time I had one of these symptoms, I would be at the doctor’s office every day. How is one to know which symptoms to take seriously and act on immediately, and which to wait a few days to see if it is temporary?

Thank you for addressing this confusing issue. — J.

ANSWER: I have seen many letters similar to yours. The confusing problem is that it’s true: In women, heart attack symptoms and the symptoms of angina before a heart attack can include all of those vague symptoms. The same is true of men as well, although it’s more likely for women than for men to have symptoms other than the classic left-sided chest discomfort (people are much more likely to describe angina as “discomfort” or “pressure” than “pain”).

So your question is entirely valid: How do you know when to take common symptoms seriously? The first thing I would say is that the greater your risk for heart disease, the more seriously you should take any symptom. Age, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, lack of regular physical exercise and diabetes are among the most important risk factors.

The second thing I would say is to take new symptoms seriously. If you never get heartburn, for example, then heartburn at age 63 should prompt concern.

Third, context matters. Symptoms such as nausea or jaw pain that occur with exercise — even carrying a bag of groceries or walking up stairs — is definitely a reason to talk to your doctor.

Most women don’t know that heart disease remains their No. 1 killer, far outstripping breast cancer (or any cancer). Both women and men need to take even vague symptoms seriously, especially if the symptoms are new, exertional or if the person has several risk factors. As a primary-care doctor, I’d rather see my patient for her concerns that symptoms may be heart disease than see her in the ICU with a heart attack.


Posted November 18, 2015 by MaryO in From Elsewhere

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Power Surge’s Menopause Survival Tips   Leave a comment

by Dearest

Women “pausing” in Power Surge often ask one another what remedies they’ve used to address their menopausal issues. I had the good fortune to be made aware of nutrition early on in life by my dearest friend and savvy mother, Anne, who went through a difficult menopause and prepared me for what to expect. The general consensus is that your menopause is likely to be similar to your mother’s menopausal experience.

I was astonished when she told me that she had menopause-related high cholesterol of 400, which she lowered only with soy lecithin — 40+ years ago. She’s 95 today. That’s when I started researching ways of naturally lowering cholesterol and exploring the many benefits of soy protein and isoflavones.

Realisitcally, like you, I do not live on vitamins alone. I don’t buy organic foods. I eat the wrong things more often than I should, and oftentimes the joints ache too much to exercise. Do the best you can because nobody can help YOU through this transition as much as yourself!

Read, educate yourself, ask questions and learn tips that will help you “survive” this transition of life.

Time-Tested TIPS from Power Surge. You’ll find specific remedies in the recommendations area.

Menopause is a time fraught with physical, hormotional and spiritual changes.

For those concerned with weight loss, perimenopause is hardly the time for strict dieting. You have enough on your plate already (no pun intended). It’s enough to cope with the extreme hormonal upheavals. However, one can and should try to observe the best eating and exercise habits because they can be extremely helpful during peri and postmenopause, and can help to eliminate many of the problems you experience and form the foundation for a healthy future. It’s wise to begin a mild strength-training program to prevent muscle and bone degeneration later in life.

Did you know that exercise is one of the most effective measures in lowering cholesterol? Lowering your LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and raising your HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) AND lowering your triglycerides, too!

Did you also know that a few minutes of exercise can stop a panic attack dead in its tracks? Reduce anxiety? Decrease and even eliminate depression? Exercise does more than boost your mood and energy level, it also has a long-lasting calming effect. You don’t need elaborate equipment or gyms. The best equipment you have is your own body. Studies show that people feel less anxious while they are exercising and then for the next several hours. You don’t need to do an hour of heavy aerobics. A review of dozens of studies determined that you need to exercise for only 20 minutes for this natural tranquilizer to kick in. It’s a known fact that the best exercise is walking — even a twenty minute walk a day. The important thing is “consistency.” So, if you do 20 minutes of exercise even three times a week, it can be instrumental in establishing optimal health and, yes, lessening the severity of menopausal symptoms.

Brown Bagging It! Increased anxiety, hyperventilating and even panic attacks are common complaints during the perimenopausal years. You’ll find numerous suggestions all over the site about how to handle anxiety/panic. Sure, there are herbs, vitamins, tranquilizers, antidepressants and the exercise mentioned above. However, Power Surge also recommends brown bagging it, especially in emergency situations. You ask, “What is brown bagging it?”

Get yourself a small paper bag. Squish (yes, squish) the top together as though you were going to POP IT! Take the gathered top part of the bag and place it tightly over your nose and mouth, preventing outside air from getting in. Now, inhale deeply! When you feel you can’t inhale anymore, inhale just a little… bit … more. Next, slowly… exhale … and when you feel there’s no breath left … exhale just a little … bit … more. Do this for no longer than 30 seconds and see how you feel. Should you feel light-headed, don’t continue. However, most people have no problems and can do this exercise for one minute. The idea behind this is that by breathing into the paper bag, you’re inhaling carbon dioxide, which serves as a relaxant to your body’s organs, rather than oxygen which acts as a stimulant. Therefore, this exercise can be excellent for palpitations, anxiety, hyperventilation and general stress. Carry a brown bag in your purse. Stick one in your car’s glove compartment. You’ll be amazed at how simple and effective this procedure is!

Speaking of palpitations, should they hit, try taking 500 mg. of magnesium. They say, “If it spasms, give it magnesium.” The same holds true for migraines. If you feel a migraine coming on, try 500 mg. magnesium. You’ll find more info about magnesium on the Recommendations page.

Take one aspirin tablet per day (325 mg., 1/2 a regular adult dose) as a natural anti-coagulant. Antiplatelet therapy reduces the risk of any serious vascular event by about one quarter; risk of non-fatal heart attack by one third, non-fatal stroke by one quarter, and vascular death by one sixth. If heart attack (or stroke) symptoms occur, take one aspirin immediately as its anti-coagulant effects can mean the difference between life and death.

Become more aware of nutrition — what you put into your body. The types of oils you use in cooking, the way you prepare your foods. Canola, Sunflower, Safflower and Olive oils are the best. Sunflower oil actually serves as a cleanser of your arteries to remove plaque and prevent more plaque from forming. Certain fats are good for your body, while others are bad.. As you are aging your skin, hair and nails are likely to become drier and more brittle and lose their natural oils. Moisturize your skin and deep-condition your hair. And eat lots of fruit and fiber.

Avoid processed foods, nicotine, caffeine, artificial sweetners and “junk” food. These are no-no’s for menopausal women. Try to cut down or, better yet, stop drinking carbonated drinks, especially diet sodas – and more especially, those made with aspertame (Nutrasweet). The carbonation can cause bloating. I can’t even begin to tell you what sort of side effects you can experience from aspertame and so many low-calorie foods are made with it. It wouldn’t surprise me if you stopped using aspertame and some of the symptoms you attributed to menopause disappeared.

Keep a journal. Journalling can be extremely useful. A suggestion — when you have a hot flash, mood swing, palpitations, bout of binge eating, sudden elevated anxiety, panic attack, or any number of repetitive behavioral problems, take a pen and paper (or treat yourself to an actual journal) and write down:

  1. What you were doing
  2. What you were thinking
  3. What you were feeling
  4. With whom you were interacting
  5. What they said to you
  6. What you ate just prior to the onset of the problem

… and anything else you can think of that might be useful in identifying your triggers.

By keeping a running journal of the ‘changes’ you experience, you’ll be able to identify those circumstances, foods, people, thoughts, activities that may have triggered the physical and emotional changes. Through examination, you can see if there’s a pattern to the emotional UPS and downs, you can utilize the process of elimination in pinpointing the cause of the problem! You can keep your own menopause blog/journal, a free feature when you sign up for the Power Surge Message Board.

Dress in thin layers. When a hot flash hits, you can peel off the top layer (without getting arrested) and wear cotton as it is the most absorbent and cool of all fibers.

Additional suggestions:

  • Drink a glass of cold water or juice at the onset of a flash
  • At night, keep a carafe or thermos of ice water or an ice pack alongside your bed
  • Use cotton sheets, sleeping garments, lingerie, and clothing to let your skin “breathe”

Believe it or not, one of the quickest remedies for hot flashes and sweats is in your own refrigerator. Open the freezer and pull out a bag of frozen vegetables. Place it on your face, neck, inner arms and wrists. It’s refreshing and often can thwart a hot flash instantly. When unanticipated hot flashes or sweats hit, especially while travelling, a handy item to have is a mini portable personal fan. I’ve kept one in my glove compartment since I started perimenopause. It’s inexpensive and effective. Remember, this isn’t a taboo subject any longer. There’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s a natural occurrence. So, use your frozen veggies, or whip out your hand fan and, uncomfortable as it may be, try to find the humor in it. Everyone else will, too.

Eat lots of garlic!. Garlic is excellent for blood pressure and cholesterol. You can also take garlic in in a gel tablet – odorless, too. Also, eat lots of broccoli. It’s loaded with phytochemicals, vitamins and contains the highest amount of antioxidants than any other vegetable. Stacked with protective compounds , such as isothiocyanates and sulforaphane, as well as indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a substance that is said to have anticancer actions, broccoli tops the list of ‘must serves’. The entire Brassica family of vegetables, (which includes Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, kale and collard greens), contains a compound that activates certain enzymes in the human body to protect cells from genetic damage.

Try adding cinnamon and ground flaxseed to your morning oatmeal. It’s been discovered that cinnamon is very effective in lowering hyptertension. Ground flaxseed blends nicely with oatmeal and is one of the most important things you should take. Flax is good for your heart, for maintaining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, one of the “good fats” our bodies need, has anti-carcinogenic properties to protect us from various forms of cancer. Flaxseed is an excellent source of fiber and especially Omega 3 Fatty Acids. A 2 tablespoon serving provides 2400 mg of Omega 3. Read more about flaxseed.

When our estrogen levels dip, our cholesterol levels often become elevated. It’s not something to be alarmed about, but it is something to take action to treat. Your health care practitioner may immediately suggest going on statins, such as Lipitor, Zocor, etc., to lower your cholesterol. Remember, this is probably a temporary condition and there are many ways to lower cholesterol naturally before resorting to prescription drugs — especially getting involved in a regular exercise programl. See Power Surge’s Recommendations.

Avoid fried, rich, spicy foods and too much sugar. As we go through the menopause transition, women are more likely to develop heartburn, acid reflux, gallstones, so avoid spicy and fatty foods.

You know how we suddenly develop cravings for chocolate? They’ve said that chocolate is the “feel good” food – probably raising seratonin levels. However, while it may make us feel good for a short while, chocolate and all sweets can bring on hot flashes, raise insulin levels, cause palpitations, anxiety and even depression in some, so while everyone’s exalting chocolate to the sky, remember it’s not good for every peri and postmenopausal woman.

Avoid toxic situations and people! Menopause can be likened to Murphy’s Law — whenever anything can go wrong, it does! Our patience is tested to the max while we’re coping with all these changes. It seems all our demons, every unresolved issue of our life, hits us right between the eyes during perimenopause. We each know at least one someone who pushes all our wrong buttons. If you know certain situations or people are invariably going to cause you grief, do everything within your power to avoid them. Avoid inconsequential arguments. Many women who have passed through Power Surge have discussed issues with anxiety and anger — oftentimes, inappropriate anger — even feelings of rage. This isn’t uncommon during perimenopause while our hormones are ebbing and flowing, up and down until we feel like an alien has taken over our body. There are simple things you can use from the breathing exercises above to taking lots of vitamin B, especially inositol, which is known as “nature’s own tranquilizer.” Many women are helped by using St. John’s Wort. It’s not only good for depression, but helps anxiety as well. You’ll find numerous suggestions on the Recommendations page and in the Being The Best You area of the site. There’s also a very helpful article, A surprising new health tip: When you’re angry, let it show. Here’s a helpful article about anxiety.

Let the light in. Turn down the noise. Find a quiet, peaceful place to regroup, or simply to read, to sew, to relax, to be free from all the stresses of the world. Perhaps you can use that time to boot up the computer and share with other women going through the same thing as you! And, DO turn off the news! One of the most contributing factors to high stress levels is watching the local news. Whether you live alone, or with your family, explain that you need some time and space for yourself. If they love you, they’ll understand what you’re going through. Explain that it has nothing to do with them, but that you simply need to tune out some of those things that cause you to feel worse.

The bottom line: LEARN TO P-A-M-P-E-R yourself!

Look at all the “TO DO” lists you’ve accumulated! I recetly printed out just one of my to do lists and ended up with 15 printed pages. You know as well as I that many of the notations on your to do list have been there for weeks, maybe months (maybe years). I could wallpaper my entire house with all the post-its scattered about my computer room/office. IF you must keep appointments organized, put them in your cell phone’s notepad. If you don’t want or can’t afford an expensive cell phone/PDA, you can purchase a less expensive PDA such as the Palm z22 PDA or the Palm Tungsten E2 100.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (a glass of red wine daily is good for your health). Once I entered perimenopause, I had to stop enjoying my glass of red wine because of the havoc it wreaked on my body. If you smoke, stop, or, at least, cut down to a minimum. You already know why without my telling you.

Alcoholic beverages can contribute to hot flashes and palpitations, plus raise your triglycerides as alcohol is converted to sugar in the body. Sugar and alcohol are two of the worst offenders during perimenopause and elevated triglycerides is one of the greatest contributors to heart disease.

High carbohydrate foods can also cause hot flashes, palpitations, anxiety and depression, plus elevated insulin levels which can exacerbate menopausal symptoms, plus too many carbohydrates can cause weight gain.

For the nausea often associated with perimenopause and PMS, try a cup of boiling water with 2-3 tsp. of lemon juice (from concentrated lemon juice). Sip it slowly and it should work like a charm every time. Ginger is also supposed to be helpful. However, using ginger itself may cause stomach problems. They say to add ginger to food, but really, who wants to eat when they feel nauseous? I would also recommend drinking some warm ginger ale (soda). You can also try peppermint or camomille tea, but not too much (I still prefer plain water and lemon).

Try to keep your sense of humor. I’ve always said in Power Surge, the moment we lose our sense of humor about life in general is the moment that life becomes unmanageable.

If you’re dealing with hair thinning and/or loss, there are some excellent tips in Hair Loss and Thinning at Menopause.

If you’re suffering from dry skin and other midlife and/or menopause-related skin disorders, you’ll find good information and tips in Tips for Midlife Dry Skin. There’s additional information about vaginal dryness here.

It’s really okay after years of playing superwoman to take time for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how well everyone manages to get along without your constant attention. Take time to regroup. Make “quiet time” for yourself. Go for a walk. Learn meditation. Reacquaint yourself with your inner child! She’s yearning to be heard. Find that peaceful place within yourself that so many of us seem to sequester away at some point in our lives, perhaps during times of stress, confusion, fear, frustration and pain — just when we need it. In my moments of anxiety and stress, music has soothed me. I have found peaceful moments with the help of Power Surge friend, Christine Magnussen’s Harp recording, “On Wings Of A Dove.

Of course, medication has its place in treating various conditions — many specifically related to perimenopause and menopause. However, medication isn’t always the answer. Not all, but many of the answers may lie within you and, believe it or not, how you “translate” everything that’s happening in your body. Own your body. It’s within your power.

Read and understand. You want to know more about menopause – visit Educate Your Body. If you’re interested in complex medical abstracts the averge woman doesn’t understand, this is not the place for it. We strive to make information you need about this rite of passage — simple and understable. There are menopause primers all over the site. There’s a list of prestigious experts in the area of menopause and women’s health a mile long, all of whom have appeared in Power Surge to answer your questions. Learn from their wisdom. They all talk in plain language. Glance at all the wonderful praise that’s been bestowed upon Power Surge and you’ll know you’re in a safe and caring place.

Become friends with your body. Listen to the messages it gives you. Your body will instinctively tell you more about what’s going on, especially during peri and postmenopause, than test results –and you can learn how to instinctively respond to it. Remember, if you treat your body well during these transitional years, it will treat you well in return… and long down the road. Own your body!

Be sure to check out the transcript library and other areas of the site for more information on menopause symptoms, methods of treatment, recommendations and Ask The Experts areas. There’s also the comprehensive Power Surge Search Engine to find specific information on any subject you’re looking for.

And, by all means, if you want to commiserate with other women — women who truly understand what you’re going through, the Power Surge Message Board and Insta-chat are best places to find them!

Other good “starter” articles are,