Why Aren’t Women Taking Care of Their Hearts?

Even the young need to get checked much sooner than they think

If you are at risk for heart disease or a heart attack, don’t you want to know?

Women far too often ignore issues with their own health and symptoms of heart disease because they’re so busy taking care of everyone else. Women are also largely unaware of the age at which heart screenings should begin, according to a new study.

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While that ignorance can be bliss, it can also be deadly. The new survey by Orlando Health found that most women thought they should start screening for heart health at age 30. The recommendations call for regular screenings to start at 20 years old.

“This is a wake-up call that there needs to be more education on heart health and more aggressive screenings to prevent a small issue from developing into life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Carolina Demori, a cardiologist who leads the Women’s Cardiac Center at the Orlando Health Heart Institute, according to the Associated Press. “Women can begin developing atherosclerosis, plaque in their arteries, in their teens and early 20s. Therefore, it is vital to understand risk factors and make appropriate life changes as early as possible,” she said.

Related: The Worst Thing for Your Heart

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Screenings should include weight and body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, and waist circumference, all of which are directly associated with heart health and can be controlled to minimize risks.

Women should also consider asking their physicians about an electrocardiogram (EKG) or other tests to uncover any existing heart conditions.

“It’s extremely important to work on your health so you can be present for the ones you love,” said Demori.

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“Young people need to know what heart disease is and how they can prevent it, so they grow up with this knowledge and understand the preventative steps they need to take,” she added. “Women cannot wait until they’re 40 to start paying attention to their risk factors.”

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