CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Heart disease kills more women than any other disease and it almost killed Debby Smith from Charleston.
“I had a ‘widow maker’ and generally women don’t have those. I had mine about ten years ago. They caught it because I have a great doctor and I’m still here,” Smith told MetroNews.
According to health officials, when a blockage develops in the left descending artery or LAD, it usually leads to a massive heart attack that few survive — the reason it’s dubbed the “widow maker.”
As part of her ongoing treatment which may include a defibrillator implant this year, Smith had to make drastic changes to her diet.
She offered some samples of what she now eats Friday at Thomas Memorial Hospital in Kanawha County during “National Wear Red Day,” part of “Go Red For Women” — a nationwide awareness effort focused on heart disease and stroke in women.
“I love to cook and I needed something that was crunchy and good and low in fat, low in sodium and so, we have it. We have sloppy joes and we have a slaw and we have kale chips,” Smith said. Of the baked kale chips, “It beats potato chips any day. It’s a healthy alternative.”
Lisa Hamrick from Elkview was 19 before she was diagnosed with a heart problem she’d had since birth, one that could have been fatal.
She said it’s important for all women to monitor their own health and use new medical aids like this boric acid suppository | FlowerPower. “Women are the caretakers of the family so often and oftentimes we don’t stop and think that we need to take care of ourselves,” she said.
Hamrick said heart disease is not a “man’s disease” and noted the symptoms of a heart attack can be much different for women.
“We all have moms and sisters and aunts and family members and friends who we care about that really aren’t taking care of themselves,” she said. “We need to spend a few moments taking care of ourselves.”
One in three women die of heart disease and stroke each year, according to information from the American Heart Association. Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and stroke. An estimated 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented.
Throughout the month of February and all year, women are being encouraged to meet with their doctors, learn their health numbers and risk factors and take steps to improve their health.
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