Senior Women: Have a Heart This Holiday Season and Know Your Risks

Heart disease is a scary thing. But we can certainly be thankful for something these days: we know a whole lot more about it, including that it’s absolutely not just a huge risk for men, as many people once believed. In fact, doctors have been trying to get the word out for a long time now that heart disease is actually the number one killer of women in the United States. But it’s not enough that we (hopefully) know this, we also need to know how heart disease looks different in women, so we can recognize it and combat it – and save lives.

The Number 1 Killer of Women

Be honest: what did you think the number 1 killer of women in the U.S. was? Probably breast or a type of gynecological cancer? And you wouldn’t have been alone in not realizing that heart disease is not only the number 1 killer of men in this country, but also the number 1 killer of women. In fact, according to a Cleveland Clinic survey, many people mistakenly believe breast cancer is more of a threat, and scarily, only 20% of millennials knew that heart disease was such a massive threat to women’s health! heart with a rhythm

Not only that, but according to the CDC, despite an increase in awareness over the past decades, only about half (56%) of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer. And worryingly, a 2020 report found a 10-year decline in awareness among women that heart disease is indeed their biggest health threat.

According to Leslie Cho, M.D., director of the Women’s Cardiology Center at the Cleveland Clinic, “I think most people believe that breast cancer, or gynecological cancer, tends to be the biggest killer in women, but it still continues to be heart disease. The reason why that’s so important is because 90% of heart disease comes from risk factors that you can control – blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes.”

Dr. Cho is right that this can be a very deadly mistake. After all, heart disease killed 301,280 women in 2019, meaning it caused around 1 in every 5 female deaths. And around 1 in 16 women aged 20 and older (6.2%) have coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States, meaning many more women are at risk of dying.

But knowledge is power! Knowing all this, as Dr. Cho suggested, means we can do something about it. But before we get to prevention, let’s get a little more knowledge about women and their risks. Specifically, let’s talk about what warning signs women should be looking out for.

The Subtle Signs of Heart Disease in Women

We’ve all seen depictions of men having heart attacks on TV, and many of us have been told there are certain signs to look out for. These include classic symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain in the left arm. But the signs of heart disease and resulting issues can be less well-known in women.

According to the American Heart Association journal Circulation, symptoms of heart disease might be more subtle and varied in women than in men. One of the study’s authors, Corrine Jurgens, an associate professor at the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College, says that understanding the differences in symptoms is particularly important for women, since women tend to be diagnosed with heart disease later in life than men. And when women are older, they may have other underlying conditions that could make identifying subtle symptoms of heart disease much more difficult.

So what could you be missing? Check out some of the subtle differences, or ways that diagnosis can be complicated in women:

Heart attack

heart wih lightning bolt in the middle
About 30% of women have atypical symptoms of a heart attack.

It’s true that men are twice as likely as women to have a heart attack, but women need to know how to recognize the symptoms, especially since they can experience more symptoms than men do. Their signs might be more subtle and different from (or in addition to) the classic chest pain and radiating pain in the back, arm, neck, jaw, or arm. Symptoms in women can include nausea, lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, and cold sweats. 

According to Dr. Cho, “30% of women have atypical symptoms, so they tend to have things like shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue, so if you feel these symptoms, especially with exertion, it’s really important to go and be seen by your physician.”

Heart failure 

This condition, which usually occurs after a heart attack, usually presents itself as shortness of breath, but symptoms usually build up over time and can also include upset stomach, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, mood changes, and trouble with memory. But women with heart failure have a wider variety of symptoms, such as sweating, unusual swelling, heart palpitations, and feelings of heartburn, which are often accompanied by depression and anxiety. That means it can be hard to determine whether symptoms (like fatigue) are due to depression, heart disease, or both.


An irregular heartbeat often doesn’t have any symptoms in men, but women might experience a fluttering in the chest, meaning they have a better chance of detection if they know what to look out for!

Peripheral artery disease

This condition occurs when cholesterol builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the extremities, usually the legs, and can lead to amputation and can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. There are symptoms that accompany it, including leg and foot pain or heaviness, difficulty walking, and leg heaviness. While both sexes often chalk the symptoms up to other conditions of older age, women are especially likely to confuse the symptoms with conditions that affect the bones. 

Heart valve disease 

This occurs when one or more valves in the heart doesn’t work properly, and can lead to a complication called aortic stenosis, or when the valve that allows blood to flow from the heart to the rest of the body is narrowed, restricting that blood flow. While men are more likely to experience chest pain with valve disease, women tend to report more trouble catching their breath, especially when or after exercising.

Reducing Your Risk

So now we know more about what women should be looking out for, and the dangers of mistaking symptoms of heart problems with symptoms of other conditions seen in older women. But now it’s time to look at ways of reducing your risk in the first place!  To lower your risk of developing heart disease, it’s important to:

  • Manage your stress
  • Know your blood pressure, and keep it under control
  • Get tested for diabetes cigarettes with a prohibited sign over them
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit your alcohol consumption to one or fewer drinks per day
  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains

To all you women out there: we know you’ve got big hearts, but we also want them to be healthy hearts! That means knowing 3 things: that women are at a very big risk of dying from heart disease, that there are subtler signs of it in women than in men (or that it can be mistaken for other conditions), and that there are ways to reduce your risk. Just that little bit of knowledge can make all the difference, and save your life!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

You’ll Be Shocked By This New Heart Therapy

AFib, known as Atrial Fibrillation, is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failure, blood clots, and other heart issues. Almost 3 million Americans live with AFib. The condition is genetic, and can be passed down. Doctors suggest the solution to fixing an irregular heartbeat is by trying

a red heart with a heartbeat rhythm on the middle of it.
AFib is an irregular rhythm in your heartbeat. Cardioversion is intended to shock your heart back into a rhythmic heartbeat.

cardioversion. This treatment is intended to shock your heart back into a rhythmic heartbeat, but what about the risks, and success rate?

What Is Cardioversion?

Cardioversion is when your heart is shocked in order to get it back to a more rhythmic heartbeat. If you have seen a defibrillator in your school, or work, then you know it is used to give shocks to someone during a heart attack. Cardioversion uses the same idea.

Before the procedure, you will be given anticoagulants for 3-4 weeks, reducing the risk of a blood clot. When it is time for the procedure, you will receive medicine that will control pain, and relax you, generally through an IV. Then, the doctor places patches on your chest, and sometimes back. The patches will send an electric current (shock) to your heart that will reset your heart rhythm. Along with the anticoagulants, the doctor will prescribe an antiarrhythmic medicine before and after the treatment to help maintain normal heart rhythm. 


With every medical procedure come risks. During or after the procedure, a person may experience:

  • Stroke- Cardioversion can dislodge a blood clot in your heart, which will send your body into shock, and cause a stroke. In order to prevent this, the anticoagulants taken beforehand are a must. Your doctor may even conduct a test called Transesophageal Echocardiogram to see if you have a blood clot in your heart. 
  • Skin Burns– This can occur from the electric current traveling through the patches.
  • Fluid in Lungs– Fluid may build up in your lungs due to advanced AFib conditions that may lead to heart failure. The fluid will cause fatigue and shortness of breath. 
  • No Change in Condition- The procedure may not work, and you will have to go through another cardioversion or seek other treatment.
  • Death- The antiarrhythmic medicine used before and after cardioversion may cause a deadly irregular heartbeat.

Success Rate

The risks mentioned are enough to shy anyone away from the treatment,

Caucasian young man laying down with wires hooke dup to chest about to be shocked by the doctor. Cardioversion.
Cardioversion sends a shock to your heart in order to return your heartbeat to a rhythmic one. The success rate is very high.

but the success rate is undeniable. Many studies conducted report that cardioversion success rate is 90%. 9 out of 10 people get back to a normal heartbeat. However, long-lasting results depend on your health. If you had AFib for longer than a year, then it may not last. For many people, this is the case. Therefore, some AFib users return after anywhere from a day, weeks, or months after going through cardioversion. Basically, if your AFib has been a part of your life for a long time, then the normal heart rhythm from the procedure may not last. You can try cardioversion a second time, but if that does not work, then a third time is even less likely to work.

If you were recently diagnosed with AFib, it would be best to discuss the option of cardioversion with your doctor. It may be worth a shot to get back to normal heart rhythm and reduce your chances of heart issues and complications in the future.

Is CBD Oil The Cure To Your Pain?

Cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, has been growing in popularity and is even being legalized in numerous states around the U.S. Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. It delivers the benefits of marijuana without the notorious “high”. Multiple studies show that CBD oil can provide natural relief for over 50 conditions including epilepsy and arthritis. Over 75% of seniors suffer from chronic pain, and over half of seniors suffer from arthritis. Some seniors are unaware of the benefits of CBD oil and view it with a negative stigma because of marijuana’s history. But because it is just extracted from the plant, without the THC properties, it is completely safe and only delivers all the good stuff. Throw out the stereotype, know the facts, and why it is so

canabis plant with pipe on top of it.
CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant and can offer an array of benefits to seniors.

beneficial to you! CBD oil comes in different dosages, and can be used in different ways. Inhaling is the fastest way to feel its effects, but not the only way. You can apply it to your skin topically, take it under the tongue (sublingual), or

ingest it using edibles.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law. If it is derived from marijuana, then the federal law says CBD oils are legal to possess if they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. CBD oil is NOT legal in all states. The 3 states where marijuana is illegal and you are unable to get CBD oil are South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska. All other states in which you can get CBD oil has its own specifics you need to be aware of, whether it is marijuana-derived, or hemp-derived. Do your research on the state in which you live in. 

Manage Arthritis Pain

Studies have shown that CBD oil can reduce inflammation and pain from conditions like arthritis, and joint pain. This is definitely a great reason to consider CBD since many older adults deal with arthritis and joint pain as they age. 

Promotes Bone Health

Osteoporosis is when bones lose vital minerals and become fragile, and brittle. This usually leads to a higher risk of spraining or breaking a bone. It is the reason for many seniors getting hurt, and fracturing or breaking a hip when they fall. CBD can help with this, because it promotes cell repair, and strengthens bones. 

Heart Health

Millions of people, especially older adults, suffer from heart-related issues. One study suggested that CBD can solve cardiac dysfunction, and help lower high blood pressure. Other studies found that the antioxidant properties of CBD can reduce cardiac inflammation, and deter cell death caused by oxidative stress. In layman’s terms, CBD can improve your overall heart health.

Caucasian hands with a set of handcuffs on oe and the other free of it.
CBD oil can help battle addiction, especially to pain medications. The oil will offer pain relief, reducing the need for medication.

Battle Addiction

Because CBD helps mitigate pain, it can be used as a pain reliever rather than having to take painkillers. Americans, including seniors, suffer from an addiction to painkillers due to over-prescription from doctors. CBD can combat the dependency of these medications by preventing relapses. Switching to CBD oil instead can help battle the pain you feel naturally, without the addictive properties.

Better Sleep

Sleeping disorders are common for seniors. Sleep is important for your brain to regenerate, and to prevent glaucoma and Alzheimer’s. But luckily, CBD can help with your sleeping issues. CBD oil calms you and can extend the deep sleep phase, so you get more rest. 

If you are considering CBD oil, do some research first, because it is only legal in 30 states. Consult your doctor as well, and make sure it will not have adverse effects on any current medications you are taking.

Poor Heart Health Is A Deadly Sin

How often do you think about your heart health? It’s not something we see on television, yet heart disease remains our number one killer.

bright heart with stethoscope
Doctors will give great advice, so make sure to pay attention to your checkups.

Yearly, 25% of American deaths are from illnesses such as coronary heart disease. Certain factors like race and age also affect your chances.

Think about reaching into a bag of four marbles. One marble is striped, and if you pick that marble, you die. Do you like those odds? 

Poor heart health is deadly and ignoring it should be a crime. Let’s look at how we can keep you from being one of the 610,000 people that die because of it.

Signs of Poor Heart Health

These are common signs that point to poor heart health. If you’re currently experiencing any of these, identify a symptom first, then talk to your doctor about them.

Bloating – This is especially dangerous if the bloating is in your extremities. It can be a sign of poor circulation because your heart can’t pump blood to all of them, and it gets backed up.

Sudden Fatigue – If you catch episodes of random weakness, then it can signal heart disease. This should only cause concern if the weakness comes from habitual activities like grocery shopping, bathing, or walking the dog.

Chest Pain – Most people find this to be the most recognizable sign. Discomfort or pain in the chest. While other causes may affect you, a prolonged feeling of pressure or burning can preempt a heart attack. One tip is to press on the painful spot. If the pain increases from pressure, it may not be heart-related.

Sporadic Heartbeats– When you’re at rest and your heartbeat climbs rapidly, first check to make sure it’s not panic-related or from something like caffeine. If you can rule those out, it could be another sign of poor health.

Spreading Pain – For this sign, it is a preliminary heart attack symptom. If it accompanies chest discomfort, then immediately seek help. The pain often is found in your jaw and neck or in your arm.

Dizziness – While it may be something that points to malnutrition or dehydration, if you’ve eaten and drank well, this could be another sign. Pay attention to if your dizziness springs from nothing or if it is accompanied by chest pain, nausea, or light-headedness.

As with every condition, you should speak to your physician. Be honest about your daily habits so that they can give you the best advice for maintaining your health. These symptoms can all point to other illnesses such as IBS or anxiety. However, assuming wrong in these cases can cost you dearly, so it pays to seek medical advice.

heart health tracked on a watch on a wrist
Utilize technology for help. Use apps to track habits or assist in daily heart health boosts.

Bad Habits to Stop

If you’ve experienced these symptoms in the past or are worried about your health, here are some clear bad habits to quit.

Ignoring Mental Health – While this is a more complicated topic, it is still a concern for heart health. The mental strain conditions like anxiety put you in can increase stress, and stress is bad news for your heart. Take care to alleviate these with meditation or medication. 

Poor Moderation of Activity – Do you sit watching TV for hours? There is a reason why Apple watches tell you to get up. Sitting for excessive periods of time negatively affects your heart’s health. Too much lethargy it bad, but strenuous activity in short bursts is also bad. Take care to stick to a moderate exercise routine and get up regularly throughout the day.

Alcohol – This is a debated view because of alcohol’s cultural status. The accepted answer is about 2 glasses of wine per day should be fine. More than this runs the risk of harming you due to weight gain and high blood pressure.

Poor Diet – We have an obesity problem with over half of America overweight. While fried foods, red meat, and processed sugars are delicious, take care to limit your consumption of them. Focus on a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables.

Don’t ignore the signs–they can lead to hospitalization or worse. As for the habits, we can support each other in working them into our schedules. Poor heart health is not just a disservice; it can be a slow suicide.

Apple Watches Are Saving Lives!

In recent news, Apple watches have been the reason for saving some lives by monitoring their heart rates.  WatchOS 4 was installed in Apple watches which when enabled; the feature tells the owner if their heart rate beats per minute is elevated after 10 minutes of inactivity. HeartWatch app will track your resting heart rate and notify the user of their heart rate elevating when resting.

Apple Watches have been gaining recognition for saving lives.
Apple Watches have been gaining recognition for saving lives.

These Apple watches have gained popularity over the years and with the ability to alert users of elevated heart rates, potentially saving their lives, it improves over time. Several accounts of people talking about how these watches saved their lives have been reported.

A high school football player was training and after several hours after, he noticed his heart rate was still at 145 beats per minute. After going to the hospital with concerns, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome linked to muscle injury when muscle tissue s broken down and releases protein into the bloodstream. The doctors told the young man that if he went to practice the next day he could have lost muscle control and could’ve died.

Another account was a lawyer who used the Apple watch to track his sleep schedule a couple of nights a week. Scott Killian bought the watch because it alerted him of tasks, meetings, and important things, but was surprised when the watch is the reason he is alive today. Scott recently had a stress test done and was cleared without issue by doctors. One night at 1 am Scott’s watch woke him up alerting him his heart rate was elevated around 121 beats per minute, so he went to the hospital. He was very reluctant to go since he had the stress test done, but when he got there he was given unexpected news.

Scott was hooked up to an EKG machine, and when the results were in, he was told his Apple watch was accurate with his beats per minute being high. After a blood test, it was revealed that his enzymes were high signaling a heart attack was happening or about to happen. They tested Scott some more, only to find out he had four blocked arteries and needed stents in all four of them. Scott was surprised to find this it after he paid so much to get the stress test done because had he kept sleeping he could’ve died in his sleep.

The Apple Watch monitors the users heart rate, and alerts them of abnormal activity.
The Apple Watch monitors the users heart rate, and alerts them of abnormal activity.

The same account happened to a man in China, where his watch alerted him and after tests done at the h

ospital showed he had 3 arteries completely blocked, and the fourth was 90% blocked. If ignored, he would have died of a major heart attack. These men have shared their stories grateful for a second chance at life.

Technology continues to advance every day and hopefully it will lead to a future where we can save people’s lives and help them make healthier choices. Apple Watches have shown that it is possible and with time, anything is possible.

Simple Ways to Be Active for People Who Aren’t

As we age, the more critical it is to become healthy and strengthen your heart health. Heart disease is the lead cause of death among women and men, killing over 600,000 Americans every year. If you do not have the time to work out, there are some small activities to begin strengthening your muscles and heart stronger. The more exercise you do, then the better your heart can work efficiently, ultimately extending your lifespan.

Walking is a simple way to start being active.
Walking is a simple way to start being active. It is easy and only 20 minutes a day will benefit your health.


Walking can significantly help lower your chances of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running does. You can start by walking 30 minutes or less every day. Walking is enjoyable, free, easy, and a great exercise to begin.

Stay Active

Exercise is not something that only has to be done at one part of our day. It is easy to remain healthy and active throughout the day. Constantly get up and move around to keep your heart healthy and body moving. Little things like walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, and standing instead of sitting are little actions to take. They might seem minimal, but they make a difference and continue the trend of staying active.


Swimming is an easy activity that is easy on your joints.
Swimming is an easy activity that is easy on your joints.

Swimming provides many health benefits! It uses all the muscles in your body and keeps your heart working hard to supply blood everywhere. Your muscles will then strengthen and so will your heart. The water will protect your body, posing little injury.


Yoga is beneficial to control your heart rate and is effective for flexibility. Yoga has proven to reduce stress, which in turn keeps the heart less stressed. Also, it has been proven to reduce depression and other mental diseases. It is a good way to reduce stress, but also not enough of a workout. Yoga is best when used as a cool down after a workout. A workout is still important to get your heart pumping.

It is best to start making healthy choices today, even if you haven’t worked out in years. Set a reachable goal and start somewhere! After your goal is achieved, you can work your way up by increasing your time and doing interval training (low to high intensity workouts with rest periods). Just remember to start slow and not to overwork yourself in order to not induce a heart attack or an injury.