Women and Heart Disease

Dr. Karen Latimer shares her prevention tips.
4:35 | 12/01/11

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Transcript for Women and Heart Disease
Here's a startling statistic for many to be number one killer of women over the age of 25 -- heart disease but many of us don't even know our risk. Here with more information is doctor Karen Latimer -- Latimer thanks so much for being -- I think a lot of people are shocked to hear -- heart disease is the number one killer of women why do you think this doesn't get more attention. Just its history. For years we think of heart disease as a man's problem and we think of breast cancer as a woman's problem and why it has never been recognized. The only explanation I have is that people aren't talking about it when they weren't complaining. And man with a -- -- -- the doctors and they really weren't seeing past those female problems for well unfortunately any thank goodness we're finally -- absolutely think and who is most at risk for heart disease. Really I want to make the point that every woman is at risk -- heart disease. But you are more at risk if you are overweight if -- inactive if your smoke -- if you have diabetes. High blood pressure high cholesterol all of those. Heart disease risk factors in the consolation things that you hear -- what about it it's also in your family histories their genetic component there is definitely genetic component but. I wonder who doesn't have she heart disease in their family history that is true ask any of my patients everybody has somebody who's had more to and is it important to understand that even if you have these symptoms -- these risk. Characteristics you can still. Live a lifestyle that can writes about them. Absolutely so people look at their genetics and DNA is something that they can change well you can change all of those other things and that will make a difference. Know your family history of course. But as we talked about you might have a family history that you don't know about because -- your grandmother your great grandmother very well may have died of heart disease but it was even recognize that that was her toddler are so. -- the advice is to eat a low fat diet exercise as much as you can't quit smoking never have -- and take care of your diabetes if you are diabetic and get regular. Health check ups go into the gynecologists is not enough -- to an internist go to a family medicine doctor go to a primary care doctor have you blood pressure -- have your cholesterol screenings. It's not enough just to take care of those things that make -- a woman isn't -- grabs art -- and other organs. And -- very frank in what do absolutely symptoms because that we hear that women experience. Heart disease and heart attacks differently from Matt -- and this is. Really in the points women do not get. Those classic things that you see -- you know the clutching the crushing. You -- chest pain that pain in the left arm when an experienced the very differently which is why we ignore them -- symptoms that you want to look out for. And mental Bethany symptoms as well that is more likely that a woman would have these signs she's having -- designs are things like palpitations shortness of breath. -- eight he kind of -- chest pain. Insomnia. Nausea indigestion. And pain can be in your upper back or even your upper abdomen which makes it very different so it's not necessarily localized around your heart area. That's right it can be very different and can be very very like ovarian cancer which is the silent killer can be very benign the symptoms we don't just don't experience them. As acutely as -- -- to him and you think that's what some of the confusion comes in when a woman is experiencing a heart attack she doesn't realize -- and no -- around -- realizes that I do because we haven't recognized in you know all these years not just because. Those symptoms are mild and not just because as when they were trained not to complain about them. People didn't think of those symptoms of a heart attack because they didn't really take women seriously right when they came accident and emergency -- saying I'm having anxiety and having. These these symptoms these pains and other people friends and -- don't take them seriously when they -- -- -- you know -- down a little while everyone is. Fatigue and I don't damage inside the unusual fatigue isn't isn't mean symptom which is something that so many women and Sarah -- I -- -- the heart attack I have been an Olympic electricity than usual fatigue indigestion. But the point is if you see -- as a consolation if you get a feeling this just isn't right. Right take that seriously you know we also as women -- -- of blessed with that in inner voice that you are feeling that something's not right. Go to the doctor. The worst thing that can happen is that you're wrong and you are just oversee how important is an immediate a very quick reaction to -- symptoms while I would make it viewed as having mild symptoms and you just a little concerned -- would make and went with your doctor but I would insist on an appointment within a week or so. If you are having symptoms that are really concerning to legal rights emergency room -- no reason to go but better safe than sorry and absolutely what really -- you have to lose absolutely doctor -- Latimer thank you know you're welcome.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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