Healthy Woman program explores matters of the heart

by Symptom Advice on March 9, 2012

Despite the rain, close to 200 area women arrived at the Fallbrook Library community room for the Healthy Woman Ladies Night out on Feb. 27. The topic for the evening was heart health and the program featured a presentation on “Heart Disease in Women” by local cardiologist Dr. Ernst Schwarz; a talk on “Healthy Cooking Made Easy” by Healthy Woman advisory council member Rose Brown-Salek; and food from Chick fil-A, in Temecula.

After checking in, the ladies were greeted with a healthy, bagged meal from Chick fil-A. The food was prepared fresh, on-site, as they arrived. The meal consisted of half of a grilled chicken cool wrap which included lots of fresh veggies and a multigrain flatbread, a small fruit salad, fudge nut brownie wedge, and a bottle of water donated by Major Market.

A delay caused by technical difficulties gave everyone a chance to chat and enjoy their food. with his computer hooked up, Dr. Schwarz quickly reviewed the general symptoms of a heart attack (pain in the middle of the chest radiating into the left arm and shoulder, and the abdomen, and sometimes into the right arm and shoulder) before going into more detail about the causes of chest pain, including several kinds of heart conditions.

Dr. Schwarz also explained how different problems in other areas of the body can cause chest pains including muscular skeletal disorders like chronic pain syndrome; digestive complaints such as heart burn and peptic ulcers; respiratory ailments like pneumonia and asthma; and other conditions including panic attacks, shingles and hyperventilation. Trauma suffered in car accidents and falls can also cause chest pain.

He said risk factors for heart trouble can be found in one?s family history, smoking, hypertension, diabetes and weight. sixty percent of heart attack patients are over 65 years of age; 46 percent are women. Coronary attacks are the single largest cause of death in Western society. Dr. Schwarz added, “Since 1984, the number of deaths for women has exceeded those for males if caused by heart disease.” He also said, “More women die from heart disease than breast cancer. One in two women will die from heart disease and one in 10 from cancer.”

Contributing to the problem is the fact that women have smaller arteries than men and “women can tolerate more pain than men, by the way,” said Dr. Schwarz. He also said that high cholesterol is more common in older women than in men and that diabetes increases the risk of suffering a heart attack up to seven times in women and only three times in men.

He then gave more details on the more atypical symptoms that women can have before a heart attack: abdominal pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath. He said women show up later in emergency rooms and are less likely to complain of symptoms. According to Dr. Schwarz, more gender specific research and guidelines are needed and women need to demand more gender specific care.

While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can cause heart problems, he said that if HRT is started early in the menopausal years, it does not increase the likelihood of a heart attack. He recommended self care, recognition of symptoms, exercise and regularly weighing oneself as changes in weight can indicate water accumulation which is not good. As he did not have time to finish his presentation, the crowd agreed with Healthy Woman coordinator Monique Murphy-Mijares that Dr. Schwarz should come back to finish his program at another time.

Also short on time, Pampered Chef consultant Rose Brown-Salek shared some tips for cooking healthier meals including grilling chicken rather than frying it, using Himalayan sea salt rather than regular salt and rinsing canned vegetable to remove some of the sodium used in canning.

An interesting tip was to cook chicken in stoneware as it keeps moisture in, whereas glass and metal containers pull moisture out of the meat. One should also let chicken rest for five to 10 minutes before cutting to keep the juices in. For portion control, she recommended using small individual pans for making desserts. among the products she sells are cookbooks that help with making food fresh and healthy, and show how to read food labels.

The next Healthy Woman Ladies Night out will be on Thursday, March 29 at the Fallbrook Library community room and the guest speaker will be Dr. Annie Dai. Ahrend Studios will be taking “after” photos of the Healthier Me participants that evening. The program?s anniversary dinner will be on Tuesday, May 22 at Pala Mesa Resort and guest speaker Dale Smith Thomas will give a motivational speech, “Winners by choice.” More information on this event will be forthcoming.

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