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Women: Avoiding A Holiday Heart Attack

November 23, 2010, 6:14 PM by Kelli Grant

Women: Avoiding A Holiday Heart Attack
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's like the perfect storm. Lots of eating, lots of stress and very little exercise.

It's no wonder emergency rooms see a spike in heart attacks starting around Thanksgiving. And that's even more true for women

Even though you'd rather ignore it than head into the emergency room on Thanksgiving Day, doctors will tell you, that's a bad idea.

"People tend to toughen up and say, 'OK, I can do it and then when everything's over, I'll come and see the doctor,'" Avera Heart Hospital ER physician Dr. Rossy Vakarelska said.

But Vakarelska says then it could be too late and women are especially notorious for putting it off.

As they prepare for kids to come into town, to create the perfect meal or to find the perfect Christmas gifts, they find an excuse for that chest pain and just don't want to disrupt family plans.

"That happens more frequently because women, we're different, in a good way. Sometimes the warning signs are different for men than women. And then we tend to ignore it and think, 'OK, that's my heart burn or that's my reflux or something else is going on,'" Vakarelska said.

Some women never experience the sharp, shooting chest or arm pain but rather just feel tired.

"We can have just a burning sensation. We can just not feel well. Some people just don't feel well.  They feel fatigued, short of breath, not having the energy to do things that they used to do and that could be a heart attack," Vakarelska said.

So listen to your body. And if you're already at risk because of family history, that's even more reason to not ignore the symptoms.

"You don't wanna wait. Time is saving the heart.  That's what it is," Vakarelska said.

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