With the year 2016 just recently coming to an end; taking a retrospective look at the last twelve months makes something startling apparent – it was not the year to be a celebrity.
David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Alan Thicke, Prince, Mohamed Ali, Gene Wilder, George Michael, and sadly the list goes on. And while the year was certainly packed with its fair share of tragedies, it wasn’t until the year was coming to an end that we lost the great Carrie Fisher, aged 60, just days before her mother Debbie Reynolds passing. It’s hard not to see the correlation.
However, in the wake of all this tragedy, it seems a spotlight has to be shown that highlights and brings attention to a very serious, yet often not spoken about; and that is the risk associated with heart disease in post-menopausal women – which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
It seems that for the last few decades the idea of heart disease and cardiovascular disorders was always thought of as a “man’s disease,” but the statistics don’t lie – more women than men die from cardiovascular disease and disorders.
Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a prominent cardiologist with a focus on women’s health recently told reporters that it was quite possible that Carrie Fisher was demonstrating classic signs of heart problems for weeks if not months prior to her passing; and they simply weren’t addressed. On top of that, most women who suffer a heart attack do in fact demonstrate symptoms prior to the event.
“Fisher suffered her first heart attack at age 60, approximately 10 years after menopause,” says Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone. “She may have ignored symptoms that come on typically six weeks prior to the heart attack.”
“If she had these warning signs she should have seen a doctor immediately to check her blood pressure, cholesterol levels, take an electrocardiogram and perhaps a stress test to identify a potential problem with her heart,” Goldberg says.
As it stands, heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, for both men and women; being solely responsible for nearly 600,000 deaths per year.
Dr. Kevin Campbell, a leading cardiologist from North Carolina believes that we need to stress this point to the public; for it is only through public awareness that real change can be made.
“It is also important to note that more women than men die every year from cardiac arrest,” he notes. “Women remain under treated and underserved. Because women have atypical symptoms such as nausea, back pain, feeling of dread, and flu symptoms as opposed to the classic symptoms of chest pain that men have, they may not be aware that they are having a heart attack.”