Toni Braxton is a Grammy-winner singer, songwriter, pianists, actress, record producer, television personality, and philanthropist. At 40, she is fit and slim at 110 pounds and appears in great health! Most folks would not expect Toni to be at risk of a heart disease.
Only four years ago she felt tired, short of breath and had some chest tightness. Busy women tend to ignore pain and discomfort, so as a mother of two and an always-on-the-go professional artist, Braxton ignored these signs. She thought it may be her childhood asthma or stress from starring in “Aida.” Then during the intermission of the show, she felt dizzy and ended up in the emergency room.
Turns out she had pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart lining. She also had a high blood pressure of 160/105 and heart flutters. She is on medication, takes daily walks on her treadmill and tries to stay away from her favorite unhealthy foods, such as burgers with bacon. To satisfy her salt cravings, she opts for vinegary salads, asparagus, or low sodium chicken jambalaya soups.
Heart Attacks and Women
There is a misconception about heart disease. People think about heart older, overweight men grabbing onto their chest and collapsing. However, heart attacks can affect younger people, even in their 20s or 30s, people at a healthy or low weight and those who exercise. It affects all ages and both sexes.
Cardiovascular disease kills more than 460,000 American women each year and affects even more. Yet, many women don’t know they are at risk. 77 percent of Caucasian women seem to be aware of the fact that heart disease was the biggest killer in women, but only 38 of black and 34 percent of Latina knew about it according to a 2006 survey. This is particularly concerning as black women are at a greater risk than others due to earlier exposure to high blood pressure and diabetes. Both of which are important risk factors in heart disease.
What Kinds of Heart Disease Are There and Who is Most Susceptible?
There are several types of heart disease. The most common type is coronary artery disease caused by blockages of the arteries supplying the blood to the heart.
Though postmenopausal women are at a higher risk when it comes to heart problems and heart attacks, it doesn’t spare younger women. Younger women who smoke are usually at a greater risk as well. Other risk factors include diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inactivity, stress, depression, radiation, chemotherapy, pregnancy complications, broken heart syndrome, high blood pressure, eating disorders and family history.
Signs of a heart attack
If you don’t know what the common signs for heart attack are, here are a few symptoms. Knowing the symptoms and getting help immediately could be the difference between life or death for you or a loved one!
- Chest pain, chest discomfort – though this is the most common and the most obvious symptom, it is more common in men than women and women may experience it differently
- Pain in the back, neck, jaw or arm(s)
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
If you have any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate. Call 911 as fast as possible. It can save your life!
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