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Spotlight on Heart Disease – Women’s #1 Killer

Lidia Winsor, 44, is a Zumba instructor and had aortic valve replacement surgery in 2012
Lidia Winsor, 44, is a Zumba instructor and had aortic valve replacement surgery in 2012 Photo Credit: Contributed

Heart disease is the number one killer of women.

That is a fact that far too few women know. Though it is the number one killer, only one in five American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat. Heart disease kills ten times more women than breast cancer. In fact, it is more deadly than all forms of cancer – combined.

Those facts aren’t heard or taken to heart by enough women. Heart disease causes one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.

No individual is immune to heart disease—not even a Zumba instructor like Lidia Winsor, 44. When she first experienced slight discomfort in her arm and pressure in her chest, the assumption was that the active woman’s problem was simply muscular strain. She underwent testing and the cause of her small discomfort was revealed: Winsor had a leaky heart valve, detectable murmur, and an enlarged heart.

In autumn 2012, Winsor had aortic valve replacement surgery performed at Stamford Hospital. She is on the road to resuming Zumba, and credits her faith with helping her through her experience with heart disease. Winsor values good health now more than ever. “If I’m not healthy, I cannot make other people healthy,” she said. Lidia’s story is being shared in the American Heart Association’s Survivor Gallery, sponsored by Stamford Hospital.

Lidia’s case is not uncommon among women. Women’s heart disease symptoms are not always apparent. In fact, heart attacks in women often present very differently than men.

Heart Attack Signs in Women

1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Women can learn more about their number one killer by attending the Go Red For Women Luncheon on February 28th at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich from 9:30 – 2:00pm. Info and tickets online at www.heart.org/westfairgoredluncheon.