“The symptoms that Laurie Robinson experienced — exhaustion and shortness of breath — are two classic signs for women that something is going on with their heart,” explains Shelley Hickey, MSN, Clinical Nurse Educator, Main Line Health. “Women often present with these subtle signs, but they don’t always relate these symptoms to their heart. After all, how many women out there aren’t tired all of the time — we have so much on our plates. Especially if women are out of shape, they may attribute feeling short of breath to the extra pounds they carry, or the fact that they don’t exercise. Laurie had two classic symptoms of heart disease experienced in women, but unfortunately, these signs are often ignored or explained away.”
Shelley says that women need to know how to differentiate between “feeling tired” and “complete exhaustion.” “Exhaustion is — I am so tired I can’t get off the couch, or I’ve slept all day and I’m still tired,” she explains. “That’s a warning sign to get checked.”
“Women often do not think ‘heart disease’ right away — we tend to think of heart disease as a man’s disease, or something that only affects the elderly. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women,” states Shelley. “Women need to understand their risk.
“Laurie was able to change her modifiable risk factors. There are many factors you can’t change — age, race, gender, family history. But there are definitely things you can change — your weight, and how much you move.
“I think the most important thing Laurie did was that she put herself first. Women do for their children, for their husband, for their parents. Then, if there’s time for me, I will take a walk, or take time to make a salad instead of grabbing something in the drive-thru. The number one thing women can do is self-care.”
To Laurie, Shelley says, “I am so awed by how you have embraced a healthy lifestyle. Good for you! And spread the word!”
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