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Women's Risk Of Heart Disease

February 11, 2010, 6:09 PM by Kelli Grant

Women's Risk Of Heart Disease
SIOUX FALLS, SD - One in three women suffers in silence because they think it could never happen to them. But Heart Disease is the number one killer of women, with about 450,000 women dying from it every year.

Many often associate a heart attack with being older, overweight or a smoker. One woman from South Dakota who survived a cardiac arrest didn't fall into any of those categories.

It was her 47th birthday last spring when Jane Lyons couldn't take what she thought was heartburn any longer. 

"I tried some over-the-counter medications and that relieved the pain and I just thought, 'Oh it's heartburn and nothing to really worry about,'" Lyons said.

It was in the emergency room that she learned she didn't need a prescription for heart burn.

"They did an EKG right away and that's what told them right away that I was actually having the heart attack then," Lyons said.

Four arteries to her heart were blocked, and two days later, she had heart bypass surgery.

About a third of women don't experience any chest pain during a heart attack.  Seventy-one percent report flu-like symptoms for two weeks to a month before heading to the hospital.

"I experienced a heartburn type of feeling. And I had that on and off for about two weeks prior to the heart attack," Lyons said. 

Her only risk factor was that heart disease ran in her family.

"My father had a severe heart attack at 53-years-old and my mother passed away of a heart attack at 66," Lyons said.

But a family history is often all it takes. Both women and men are more likely to develop heart disease or stroke if their close blood relatives have had them.

That's why when it comes to her two sons, Lyons' isn't taking any chances.

"I've talked to them a lot about their diet and how important it is because you want to stay healthy," Lyons said.

So she's setting a good example by watching what she eats, staying active and not ignoring the warning signs ever again.

"If you think there's something that's not quite right, listen to your body and have it checked out by your physician. I'm sure glad I went in when I did," Lyons said.

On this Sunday's Inside KELOLAND, we'll focus on women and heart disease. Hear from two women with very different stories who've both been on the operating table. And we'll hear more about a woman's risk from a cardiologist. That's this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and following the 10 o'clock news.

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