Making the invisible visible to all women

SMART: Newcastle community members band together at the Foreshore last week as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Picture: SuppliedThere are obvious benefits from daily physical activity, but a conversation I had with a Merewether ladyrecently was a wonderful example of how exercise can turn your life around.

Former nursing manager Ros Brown,told me without warning she“dropped dead” at work in 2013.I was speaking to Ms Brown as part of the Heart Foundation’s national campaign to raise awareness of women and heart disease this month,Making the Invisible Visible.

She turned up to work that day like any other regular day andhad no symptoms before havinga heart attack and going into cardiac arrest.

Ms Brown was one of the lucky ones, in the right place at the right time, and after colleagues worked on her for over an hour, she survived to tell the tale.

She said she wasoverweight at the time and under stress at work, but never thought her health was in any danger.

SEE THE SIGNS: The risk factors for women include high cholesterol, being overweight and low rates of physical activity.

“I had no forewarning at all; I had no chest pain, no shortness of breath, no family history, nothing,” Ms Brown told me.“It just came out of the blue.”

Heart disease is the single leading cause of death forAustralian women, claiming 24 female lives every day.And,apparently here inNewcastle and Lake Macquarie, the statistics are evenhigher than that.

The aim of the Heart Foundation’snational campaignis to highlight the risk factors for women.The most commonare high cholesterol, being overweight and low rates of physical activity. Research also shows that smoking, poor controlled diabetes and depression are greatrisk factors forwomen, especially after menopause. Also in many cases, women may not experience the classic chest pain symptoms seen more commonly in men. Instead, they are more likely to experience pain in the arm, neck or jaw, feeling nauseous, sweaty or fatigue.

Each year 36,000 men and 19,000 women are admitted to hospital for heart attack, but annual death rates are nearly on par, with the statistics for men 4700 and women 4500.

Since her life-threatening experienceMs Brown told me she has started exercising.Shewalks every day and attends Heart Moves classesthree times aweek and told me, although it was tough at first,she has stuck with it.As a result, she has lost 27 kilograms intwo years and her heart function has increased so much thateven her cardiologist has beenpleasantly surprised.

According to the Heart Foundation, when discharged from hospital after being treated for a heart condition, women are less likely to attend cardiac rehabilitation or make lifestyle changes that may prevent them from a recurrence.It’s very important to hear stories like Ms Brown’s, to show the impact that physical activity can have on one’s health.

As part ofMaking the Invisible Visible, the Heart Foundation recommends knowing the warning signs of a heart attack andhaving a heart health check.

It also recommends 30 minutes of physical activity every day,but suggests you should consult with a medical professional before taking up a new exercise regime.

Renee is a qualified personal trainer, mother of three and writer. renee.fitfy@gmail苏州美甲美睫培训学校

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