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One Woman: One Heart

I am a post-menopausal woman.        There, I said it.

Unlike my senior sisters who reach the pastoral pause naturally, I endured a radical hysterectomy at age 30 and always believed my reproductive health (pap smears, pregnancy, birth control, etc.) were the sum total of my worse medical concerns.

Black women are raised to think this.

Thanks to the “American Heart Association,” I am now aware that heart disease is the number one killer of African American women – not a rogue cervix or uterus. ( Who knew?)

Progressive health care for post-menopausal women means more than being on the other side of monthly misery, taking calcium, or embracing hot nights of sweat.  My heart is now more subject to attack than it has ever been, and it’s paramount that I pay attention.

I’m calling all black women to fine tune their internal antennas and join me.

I can recall at least three times in life that I was certain I was having a heart attack. All were false alarms, but because I avoided being my own personal M.D., I sought the appropriate health care from a licensed cardiologist.  A stress test, echocardiogram, and an EKG were all necessary components to separating anxiety and indigestion from a legitimate heart disorder.

My results indicated a mild heart murmur and tricuspid regurgitation.  The latter totally made me think I was a candidate for open heart surgery.  Although it’s a scary term, it simply means I must be pre-medicated with a antibiotic prior to certain medical procedures and dental work; however, the American Dental Association (ADA) no longer requires dentists to pre-medicate.

My heart is fine. I recently prescribed Celebrex for mild inflammation and strive to eat healthy and exercise on a regular basi. I’m no fan of aerobic classes and the Boston Marathon isn’t on the radar either, but a brisk walk or cool swim does my body good.

Take a look at the information below to learn heart attack symptoms and relevant  statistics.  The single most important muscle to your existence is your heart.                  You only have one, so take care of it!

  • Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
  • Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
  • Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk.
  • Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

What are the symptoms of a heart attack in women?
The most common heart attack symptom for women is pain or discomfort in the chest. However, women can also have a heart attack without having any chest pain. Additional symptoms include:

  • Feeling out of breath
  • Pain that runs along the neck, jaw, or upper back
  • Nausea, vomiting or indigestion
  • Unexplained sweating
  • Sudden or overwhelming fatigue
  • Dizziness


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