by KRYSTAL MCKENZIE
Women of all ages, if you don’t take anything else away from this, remember: Learn to be in tune with and listen to your body.
This is the advice from countless women who have experienced heart attacks and lived to tell the tale. The biggest mistake women make is trying to ‘tough it out’, not seek medical care, or thinking it can’t happen to them.
Long seen as a ‘man’s disease’, heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the US, and we all know that when the States sneezes, Bermuda catches a cold. The Bermuda Heart Foundation’s CORE (Cardiac. Outreach. Renewal. Education.) centre helps people in all matters related to heart health and care.
While many women don’t view heart disease as a threat, there’s an increasing amount of ladies who have survived a heart attack and are now eager to educate other women about how to prevent a heart attack and how to recover from one.
Prevention is better than cure and Villa Dill is a living testament to that fact. While not a heart attack survivor, she has been attending the island’s CORE programme since 2013 in efforts to improve her lifestyle. She now even has her husband on board!
“I just wanted to be healthy,” she shared. “I don’t have any health issues, but my sister invited me to CORE, I enjoyed it, and kept coming. That was 10 years ago, and I found that I felt better, walked faster and moved quicker. In terms of weight loss, that came later.”
The support of friends and family is important, and it’s nice to see ladies looking out for one another as it can be vital to your success.
“The support of a group is veryimportant. I realised I could not do it alone. My fellow participants and I look out for each other. We help each other with the equipment and encourage each other. CORE sincerely feels like a family.”
As a result of her efforts, Ms Villa has maintained a healthy weight, feels better about herself, and has cut her blood pressure medication dosage by half. You go, girl!
Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, shared her story after having a heart attack while in her 40’s.
“It was unthinkable, the furthest thing from my mind,” she confessed. “I thought I was living well and didn’t really pay attention to my lifestyle.”
‘Leila’, as we’ll call her, didn’t experience any traditional symptoms, but admitted that she hadn’t been to her doctor for a few years and didn’t have her finger on the pulse of her own health.
“This taught me that heart issues can look very different in different people. Even somewhat healthy people can fall victim to this disease,” she said.
After her heart attack, Leila developed a healthier lifestyle and learned to listen to what her body needs, rather than what she thought it needed.
“I definitely cut back on fried foods and found a variety of ways to exercise,” she explained.
“I was in fear that it could happen again. Now, I just want to live well.”
Knowing that symptoms can be different for everyone, ranging from a sense of impending doom to nausea and pain in the chest, shoulders, neck and arms, the best thing to do is to educate yourself as best as possible. Work with your doctor to develop and maintain a health regimen, and know that time is precious in the event of an emergency.
Protect your heart in every way, ladies, and may you live your best lives.