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The Washington Post: Heart Health, Women and the Limits of Exercise

The Washington Post recently interviewed Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute, and Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, about heart disease in women, which can strike even those who appear to be fit and healthy.

“Heart disease remains the number one killer of American women,” Gulati told The Washington Post. “When we ask people, they almost always say breast cancer is number one. But women have a tenfold greater chance of dying from heart disease than breast cancer.”

Gulati said that maintaining physical fitness is important for heart health, but it does not guarantee women will avoid heart disease, which often strikes without warning. Even active women are at risk and should know the signs of a heart attack, Bairey Merz told The Washington Post.

“Pay attention to any symptoms above the waist, which means above the belly button, that are new to you,” said Bairey Merz, director of the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program at the Smidt Heart Institute.

Symptoms, which may intensify over several hours, include sudden and unusual shortness of breath and fatigue, chest pain, upset stomach and new pain in the back, neck or jaw. Because many women don’t believe they could have heart issues, often they disregard the signs.

“If their husbands had those symptoms, they would take them to the ER,” Gulati told The Washington Post. “I always say, if you would take someone else to the hospital with those symptoms, make sure you get yourself there, too.”

Click here to read the complete article in The Washington Post.