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Heart disease: Deadly but under-publicized killer of women

Dr. Sara Sirna, a Loyola cardiologist, talks with WJOL Radio about the team approach that everyone at Loyola University Health System believes in.

She talks about how the No. 1 killer for both men and women is heart disease. However, many women don't know that. Women often fear breast cancer more than heart disease. Dr. Sirna talks about how groups are trying to raise awareness with the Red Dress campaign.

Women have different symptoms than men do and their heart disease can be harder to diagnose.Women who have heart disease are more likely to die of this than men. Also, men show symptoms at an earlier age than women. Men will have crushing chest pain or pain in the left arm, shortness of breath and sweatiness. Women may have only one symptom, which could be dizziness, palpitations, shoulder pain, flulike symptoms, fatigue and lightheadedness.

Women appear to be protected from heart disease because of the estrogen in their system. But after menopause, this protection disappears. Women are at the same risk as men 10 years after menopause.

Smoking is a huge risk factor for women. Other factors that increase the risk are high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, as well as age and family history. She said that small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference. You should also know what your numbers are for hypertension and cholesterol. She talks about how people often don't understand that we do need fat in our diet, but that it should be the right kind of fat, like avocados, nuts and fattier fish like salmon.

For more information about cardiovascuarl care at Loyola or to make an appointment, please visit LoyolaMedicine.org/heart or call 888-LUHS-888 (888-584-7888).

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Jim Ritter
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Anne Dillon
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