A friend was recently telling me that her husband had had a heart attack. Her story sounded radically different from those I’d heard before or heart attacks that I’d seen on television. Rather than a sudden shooting pain in an arm or the chest, he had developed a really sore back. So sore, in fact, that he decided he needed to get a massage rather than go to work. She didn’t think much about it and expected him to ease out of the pain after a day of rest. She continued rushing through a busy work day when she received a text message that he was getting a friend to drive him to the massage appointment. This struck her as very odd (“He can’t drive himself to his appointment?”). But she was right in the middle of a meeting. After the meeting, she called her husband and found out that he was now being admitted to the hospital.
What happened was that the friend had showed up at the house to find her husband with back pain, but also clammy and a bit out of breath. Nonetheless, he did what his friend had called for him to do: drive him to the massage appointment. Thankfully, the massage therapist recognized that more was at play than a sore back and instructed them to do right to the hospital. Once at the hospital, he was immediately assessed as having had a heart attack.
Women and Heart Attacks
After hearing about this, I also learned something important: that women often do not experience heart attacks in the same way that men do. Like the story I just relayed to you, the pain may be more of a strong discomfort as opposed to a shooting pain. And for women, it is more common to have pain in the back, neck, or jaw — not the traditionally left arm or chest pain. Also, it’s common for women to have stomach pain and confuse it for heartburn or the flu rather than a heart attack. (In fact, that’s exactly what I would do too! A heart attack would be the last thing I would think of).
But maybe I’m wrong … Maybe I am at risk for a heart attack? I wanted to find out and you can too with the Heart Age Calculator found on the Shoppers Drug Mart website. Although this calculator is a crazy simple to use, it is scientifically validated by researchers at McGill University. The objective of the tool is to assess your risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years. It completes the calculation based on your responses to questions like height, weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and personal family history. Even if you don’t know all the specifics answers (I didn’t, for example, know my cholesterol levels), you can navigate through the calculator and get a result.
And the result? My heart health age = 39.4. Which is good, because I am over 40.
How to Make My Heart Happier
Despite having this relatively healthy score for my heart age, I know that I’m not doing everything I can to keep my heart healthy. I really need to keep more active. I do a lot of walking, but I don’t do “vigorous” activity. And just because it’s cold, I really have no good excuse … remember I received that tread mill for Christmas two years ago?? Yeah, I need to get back on that treadmill horse!
In fact, the Heart Age Calculator even shows me the benefits of including more exercise into my lifestyle:
The Basics on Canadians and Heart Health
- Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada.
- Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for Canadian women. And women who have diabetes and/or menopausal are at higher risk.
- Factors such as blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels, and lifestyle risks like smoking and inactivity can result in a heart that is older than you actually are.
- Research shows that understanding and knowing the cardiovascular age of your heart will lead to better health management. (You know, that wise old saying: Knowledge is Power.
How to Be Heart Healthy
In the material provided to me for this post, it notes that there are “5 simple steps to be heart healthy”:
- Stop smoking (not simple for most people! But here are some tips)
- Monitor your blood pressure (this is easy: you can get this done at Shoppers Drug Mart any time)
- Apply an active lifestyle (certainly not simple for me!)
- Regulate your cholesterol levels (this site has a TON of great recipes to help with this)
- Take control (this is the knowledge part, I think)
How Old is Your Heart?
It takes no time at all and provides some super valuable information. (I’m going to get my husband to take it tonight too!)
Disclosure – Although this post has been sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect the views, opinions or positions of Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. or its affiliates or licensees. Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information within this blog post and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or for any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.