Women and Heart Health

Better Living
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When Bobbie Jeske started to feel tired, out of breath, and out of sorts, she attributed it to work and the stresses of everyday life. One particular summer day, it was enough that she needed to come inside and lay down.

“My kids asked me if I was okay,” she says. “I said, ‘Yeah, just go out and do what you’re doing.”

But she wasn’t okay. That day, Bobbie suffered a massive heart attack. An emergency balloon angioplasty saved her life but many others aren’t as lucky.

“If I would have waited any longer, I would not be here,” she says.

According to Sara Sirna of the Loyola Medicine, one out of four women dies of heart disease every year, making it their number one killer. She says it’s important for women to know the warning signs to look for and to realize that their symptoms differ from those of men.

The classic signs are pain in the middle of the chest, shortness of breath, and sweating or diaphoresis. Women may experience these, but other signs include flu-like symptoms or dizziness/lightheadedness or in some cases, no symptoms at all.

“Their symptoms can be very a-typical,” Sirna says. If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack, she says it’s important to not be shy and to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Sirna says preventative care is just as important as knowing what to do when a heart attack occurs.

  • Know your blood pressure, make sure it’s within healthy limits, and take medications if needed
  • Know your cholesterol, make sure it’s within the right range
  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise for 30 minutes four to five times a week
  • Try to limit stress and take time for yourself

It’s been two and a half years since her heart attack and Bobbie is healthy and back to her normal schedule. She quit smoking, eats healthier, and goes to the gym as often as she can but says one of the most important things she’s learned to do is take time for herself and not stress the small things.

“I just take it day-by-day now,” she says. “I’m happy to be here and so are my kids, they’re very happy I’m here.”

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