Women told to be selfish about hearts | VailDaily.com

Women told to be selfish about hearts

Nicole Frey

EAGLE ” On the rare occasions a husband accompanies his wife to a doctor’s appointment, he generally barely knows why she’s there, much less what medications she’s on or her medical history, said Kimberly Kramer, the director of the Heart and Vascular Center and Critical Care at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

Conversely, women know their husband’s medical histories since before the couple met. She can usually even tell you the time of his last bowel movement, Kramer said.

“Women are so good at taking care of everyone else that we don’t take care of ourselves,” she said.

Kramer spoke to a roomful of women ” and one man ” during a summer luncheon in Eagle to educate women about heart disease and Valley View Hospital’s cardiac unit.

“Women, share that role with your spouse,” Kramer said. “You might end up in the ER one day, and you might not be able to talk. And how can you take care of everyone else if you don’t care of yourself?”

In keeping with the heart healthy theme, the group’s lunch consisted of bread, fruit and a salad of skinless chicken breast, potatoes, Kalamata olives and greens with vinaigrette dressing. Dessert provided a bit of indulgence with chocolate covered strawberries and coconut macaroons.

Halfway through the meal, Kramer told each woman to look at the person sitting to her right and to her left. Of the three women, one will likely die of heart disease, she said

The disease claims 32 percent of women.

“As a group, we need to stick together and help each other out,” Kramer said.

She talked about prevention and recognizing the symptoms, which may be as easy to ignore as fatigue. Does anyone know a woman who isn’t tired?

Eat right, exercise and above all, don’t smoke, she said.

“Heart disease from smoking is almost a definite,” Kramer said.

Many women don’t know they’ve inherited problems, though doctors must take some of the blame as well; though Kramer said most the doctors are open to testing women for heart disease, there’s still an “old school” sect that won’t realize symptoms like back pain and insomnia as heart problems.

“The symptoms are so subtle, it often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” she said. “But it is better now. Ten or 15 years ago, it was a pat on the back and an ‘It’ll be OK honey.'” Kramer said.

Kramer strongly advocated asking for tests to determine the health of your heart including an electrocardiogram, also called an ECG or EKG, an electrical recording to the heart.

“Many women don’t know they’re risks,” said Bethany Van Wyk, an Eagle County public health nurse. “They think it’s a male disease, so this is a huge step for women.”

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or nfrey@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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