Women Reveal Truth about Heart Disease

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There's a modern myth that heart disease is a man's disease. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, more women die from heart disease than men, about half a million a year. A group of female heart patients is trying to lower that number by setting the record straight.

It's party time for these heart disease survivors and they're lucky to be alive.

Exposing Truth

Their group, called WomenHeart, is about telling their personal stories to expose the truth about female heart disease.

One of the biggest truths is that it's often overlooked.

Rosiland Taylor's heart failure was repeatedly misdiagnosed.

"When I think about it I really get mad and I don't want that to happen to another woman," she said. "I can talk about it and I might even save someone's life talking about it."

They are talking about it intelligently, thanks to their education from the world-famous Mayo Clinic.

"It is the number one killer of women, but they don't know it, and their health care providers don't know it," said Dr. Sharonne Hayes, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic.

Women vs. Men

One of the reasons women's heart disease is missed is because women's coronary arteries are smaller than men's. So when a man has a heart attack, the crushing chest pain is an obvious red flag. But when a woman has a heart attack, the signs are often more subtle.

It could be mild chest pain or neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness or dizziness or unusual fatigue.

And another thing: women's risk factors are different from men's. Smoking is much worse for women than men.

Mental stress and depression affect women's hearts more than men's and high blood pressure and obesity have a greater impact on women than on men.

Karla Goetting lost 150 lbs. to reduce her risk.

"I'm trying to live a different life. I'm trying not to repeat the mistakes I've seen lived out before me," she said.

And she's trying to prevent others from making the same mistakes.

*Original broadcast January 29, 2009.

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Lorie Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

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