People think breast cancer or ovarian cancer even, but (heart disease) is the No. 1 killer for women," said Karen Campf, director of educational services at Alliance Community Hospital.
The reason the disease claims so many lives, Campf
said, is because women are often too busy to take care of their own health needs and tend to ignore the symptoms of a heart attack.
In women, these symptoms may also be mistaken for the flu because they can include things like cold sweats, nausea, stomach pains and shortness of breath.
Campf said there are numerous stories about women being caught off guard by heart attacks because of the symptoms they had, including younger women.
"As women, we're used to taking care of everybody else.
We don't think about ourselves, so when we have symptoms like that we really do brush it off," she
"If somebody else had those symptoms, we'd be getting them to the doctor or the hospital, but we just think, 'Oh, I've got the flu, I've got a bad cold, I'm just under too much stress.'"
said if your symptoms persist or you have shortness of breath when walking a flight of stairs, it is time to seek help, especially if you have a strong family history of heart disease.
While you can't do anything about heredity, Campf
said there are some things that you can do to lower your risk of heart disease:
"You need to look at your lifestyle and (ask) what changes do I need to make so that I don't have problems with my heart," Campf
said this is what leads to chest discomfort and shortness of breath.
For those who do have a heart attack, getting help immediately is important.
"You need to get to the emergency room because there's so many things we can do now to stop that heart attack and prevent the damage to your heart," she
, who began her
more-than-30-year career in nursing in the intensive coronary unit, is amazed by the changes that have taken place in medical care for heart attacks.
Not only have stays in the hospital shortened, but if patients get help in time, damage can even be prevented.
said the goal of ACH
staff is to get heart attack patients into a cath lab at Aultman
or Mercy hospitals within 90 minutes.
"It's awesome to see how wonderful (the treatments are) and the lives that we're saving because of the technology that we have.
But the more important thing is stopping that heart disease from occurring all together," she
To continue that ultimate goal, the most important things are education and lowering risk factors.
"I do think the education is working and a woman is more apt to think, 'Could this be my heart?' than she
would have in the past when it was thought of as such a man disease," Campf