One key point of awareness that needs to get out there: Women may not always experience heart troubles in the same way men do.
"Women are more likely to have symptoms that aren't considered typical for men," Cook noted. "Like nausea, overwhelming fatigue and weakness, back pain, stomach or gastric discomfort. At the same time, we have managed to raise such an awareness of this unique cluster of warning signs that we may have understated the fact that the most common symptom for women -- as with men -- is still chest pain, tightness and shortness of breath."
As more women learn more about their risk for heart disease, many are trying to do something about it, Cook pointed out. "The good news is that . . . among those who know that heart disease is the number one killer of women, 35 percent are more likely to be physically active and 47 percent are more likely to report weight loss," she said.
Early on, the primary goal of The Heart Truth campaign was awareness, Cook noted, but "now we've definitely shifted to awareness leading to action. If you smoke, you should quit. If you have diabetes, you need to know that clinicians treat diabetes as a heart disease equivalent, and go to your physician and find out what that means. You may need to make changes, in terms of lifestyle, or medications, or both. It may be a matter of life and death."
Here's where you can find out more about The Heart Truth campaign.
SOURCES: Nakela Cook, M.D., M.P.H., medical officer and cardiologist, U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md.; Chaka Khan, singer; "The Heart Truth" Red Dress Collection, New York City, Feb. 8, 2012'/>"/>
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