Heart disease affects more women than men

In the past, heart disease has been considered a man’s disease but today it affects more women than men. Our Marcie Fraser has more.

NATIONWIDE -- "50 percent of people with heart attacks die before can get into the hospital," said Dr. Andrij Baran, Cardiologist.

Like many other women, Joyce Murphy didn't know she was having a heart attack.

"I didn't know what was going on," said Joyce Murphy, a heart attack survivor.

According to AHA, the rate of younger women dying from heart attacks, ages 35 to 50, has been increasing one percent per year for the last five years.

"Women tend to postpone seeing medical attention when they develop symptoms. They think it can't be them," said Dr. Baran.

One reason women don't think they are having a heart attack is because they’re looking for the most classic symptoms, chest pain and pressure, which in many instances does not happen to women. Signs women need to look for; "Sudden shortness of breath, just can't catch your breath, sudden dizziness, nausea, vomiting for no good reason," said Dr. Baran.

"Heart can be pounding, very short of breath," said Murphy.

"If you suddenly get some kind of a symptom you are not used in that category; jaw pain, back pain, you need to get checked out. And usually, if the pain doesn't go away in five minutes, it needs to be paid attention to," said Dr. Baran.

Many women are ticking bombs.

"About 35 percent of women have some degree of coronary disease, some degrees of narrowing of the arteries. The vast majorities of those don't know they have it," said Dr. Baran.

Dr. Baran said that risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

Heart disease doesn't happen overnight.

"Heart disease doesn't happen at 50 or 60 and then the 'big one' hits. It started back 15 years ago and you could have prevented it with proper measures back then. We are trying to put humpty dumpty back together 15 years too late," said Dr. Baran.

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