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Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer among American men and women, but women often wait longer to seek treatment or sometimes do not see their doctors at all. If Wilmington resident, Gwen Johnsen had ignored the signs of heart disease any longer she may not be around to do the things she loves. Johnsen says, "the shortness of breath probably started 8, 9, or 10 months ago. It just gradually got worse, the night sweats got worse and I just thought it was my age because I’m 64." It was her daughters who encouraged her to get checked out. As it turned out, Gwen had heart disease. Doctors say some of the most common symptoms for women having heart disease are shortness of breath, pain in the jaw, pain in the neck or pain in the shoulders. The symptoms are different for men with heart disease because they normally suffer from chest pain and pain down the arm. Johnsen says, "I was totally surprised. I absolutely would have told you nothing was wrong with my heart, I was just going to say it was smoking related." Gwen sought treatment quickly, not everyone is so lucky. Cardiologist, Dr. Andrew Bishop says, "the worst case is dying, the next worse case would be having a heart attack." Dr. Bishop goes on to say; "Paying attention to the symptoms and doing something about the symptoms before it turns into an event is the important thing. Now Gwen is taking better care of herself. She has stopped smoking and is exercising regularly. Gwen says, "I feel better than I’ve felt in 15 or 20 years and that’s wonderful and I plan to be here a lot longer." Doctors say if you have any symptoms, you should talk to your doctor. They say it is better to seek help now before something worse happens later.

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