There is no better time than now to check in on your heart health.
With the news of Lisa Marie Presley’s death from an apparent cardiac arrest, it’s important to pay attention to risk factors and family history. And early detection can be helpful and even lifesaving in many cases.
“Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops beating,” she said. “It can come on quickly, and a person in distress with it can lose consciousness, become disabled or even die.”
Dr. Franey said in cardiac arrest a person’s heart goes into a dangerous rhythm. It can be a sudden onset with little to no symptoms. Cardiac arrest can be caused by cardiac disease – blockages in the heart or arteries – but it also can be caused by electrolyte abnormalities, drug overdose or a severe hit to the chest.
And while cardiac arrest isn’t necessarily common in women, cardiac disease is.
“Cardiac disease in women is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.”
That’s why when it comes to cardiac health, the main things to focus on are risk factors, or causes, of cardiac disease. It’s also important to talk to your doctor if you have a family history of heart issues, including cardiac arrest.
Risk factors for cardiac disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
- Tobacco use
- Family history of heart conditions
She also said patients should be proactive and become their own advocates.
“Know your numbers,” she said. “What is your cholesterol and blood pressure? And if you have a strong family history of cardiac disease, talk to your doctor about ways to minimize risks.”
Screening can be different for many patients. However, it typically begins with the assessment of baseline risk factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure. Depending on one’s individual risk, additional labs and/or cardiac imaging — such as a coronary artery calcium score — may be considered to further evaluate cardiac health.
“For women, it’s important to know that symptoms might not always be the typical symptoms,” she said. “A lot of people think chest pain while exercising is the only thing to look out for, and that’s not the case.”
Symptoms to watch for include:
- New chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting or dizziness
- Racing heart
“If you’re noticing any of these symptoms, bring it up with your primary care physician or cardiologist,” Dr. Franey said. “It’s never wrong to mention new symptoms to your health team.”