Wednesday, February 8, 2017


February is the month of love but according to 1st for Women life insurance, another red-hot topic that deserves attention is another matter of the heart – coronary health in women.

It’s a staggering statistic that worldwide, cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes 8.6 million deaths among women annually, and is the leading cause of death for women in the US. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, heart disease is the largest single cause of mortality, accounting for a third of all deaths of women worldwide. In South Africa CVD remains one of the major killers, and one in four women will have some form of heart condition before the age of 60.

“Contrary to widespread belief, men are not the only ones prone to heart disease,” says 1st for Women Insurance’s Executive Head, Robyn Farrell. “Women can start developing plaque in their arteries from their teens and early 20s. This condition can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke, which is why women should understand their risk factors, get screenings, and make life changes where necessary.”

Doctors advise that women should be screened from the age of 20 for weight and body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and cholesterol and glucose levels. All these factors are associated with heart health, and can be treated or controlled to minimise the risks for heart disease.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, once women reach menopause, the risk of heart disease increases three times.

The warning signs for a heart attack in women are less evident than in men. Women are also more likely to ignore these symptoms, which tend not to be the classic ones such as tightness in the chest or discomfort and pain.

Symptoms for a heart attack include:

  • An uneasy feeling in the chest
  • Abdominal pain
  • A fluttering heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Swollen feet

“Knowing more about your health and risk factors from early on is an investment in your wellbeing,” says Farrell. “Undiagnosed heart issues get worse over time, and no matter how busy you are taking care of others, show your heart some love and don’t neglect your health.”

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