Heart Disease, the Silent Killer
Simple lifestyle changes can prevent heart disease
By Nilda Melissa Diaz
According to the 2014 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics by the American Heart Association in coordination with the National Institutes of Health, Hispanic women awareness regarding heart conditions remains lower than any other women categories. However, “Latinas are most prone to heart attacks due to their higher prevalence of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which are risk factors for heart disease, and in particular, heart attacks,” explains Dr. Sizemore-Ruiz. “We also know that Latinas are, many times, the “rock” of the household and with this comes a lot of responsibilities.”
Dr. Tiffany Sizemore-Ruiz
Earlier than most
“Latinas are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women,” explains Dr. Sizemore-Ruiz, which means that Latinas need to start paying attention to their heart at an early age.
According to Dr. Sizemore-Ruiz, some signs to look out for are: chest pain, short of breath, chest or epigastric (upper stomach) discomfort with exertion. “As a general rule, chest pain is never normal,” she assures. “In particular, chest pain that is pressure-like or ‘squeezing’ is very worrisome.”
However, some symptoms are not always as obvious, such as nausea and jaw pain. “Most women don’t notice the symptoms of heart disease until it’s too late, which is why heart disease has been called the silent killer.”
Once you are at the doctor’s office, whether for a routine check-up or because you have experienced the symptoms, be sure to find out if you are at risk. As Dr. Sizemore-Ruiz explains, the most important thing you can do is to take control of your own health by knowing your own risk factors. Learn about your family history, if any, of heart disease, blood glucose, cholesterol, weight and blood pressure. Knowing these numbers will help you to realize your risk of having heart disease.