February 6th was Red Out day – a day of awareness for heart disease in women; the number one killer of women in our country. Here is where our desire to take care of everyone around us before we look to our own health and well-being becomes a problem.
Rosie O’Donnell, stand up comedian and host of The View has created a documentary that reviews the symptoms she experienced prior to her 2012 heart attack that brought her to death’s door. It is Rosie, so you know it is going to be funny, but the important part of the hour long special is the acronym she says (i.e. Raps) with the audience:
- H – Hot
- E – Exhaustion
- P – Pain
- P- Pale
- P- Puke
She explains that the pain she felt was in her biceps rather than her chest; that women may experience pain in their tongue, neck, back or arms. The symptoms for an oncoming heart attack are different for a woman and therefore can be overlooked. Her special Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Stand Up premieres at 10 p.m. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, on HBO.
In an article written shortly after her heart attack, Rosie provides more details and symptoms that women may experience. 7 Signs of a Heart Attack.
Why talk about heart disease on a blog dedicated to helping women advance in STEM and leadership roles? Awareness is important. Women are mis-diagnosed all the time; part of the reason for the high number of fatalities. We want you to be around and healthy to enjoy the advancement you are working so hard to achieve.
What Are Preventative Measures?
It will come as no surprise to you that exercise and eating right are the corner stone to being healthy. The CDC shares further information on how you can prevent heart disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s excess body fat.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
- Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes high blood pressure.
Bottom line: be healthy, be aware and be proactive. You have a lot of great value to share – make sure you are around a long time to make a real difference!