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Wisconsin Women, Listen to Your Hearts Over the Holidays

December 17, 2007

Madison, WI – This holiday season, Wisconsin women should listen to their hearts, experts say. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women, according to the American Heart Association, and December and January are the peak months for heart attacks and heart-related fatalities.

Women are especially at risk this time of year, says Vijay Kantamneni, a heart surgeon at Dean Medical Center in Madison, in part because they're eating more, and fattier, foods. And then there's the increased holiday stress.

"Women are particularly more stressed at this time of the year, because there's a lot of things happening, especially the holidays. They tend to maybe ignore the symptoms, or they just don't have the time to think about things."

Kantamneni says holiday foods also can boost risk of heart attack, especially for diabetics.

"People in general eat more around the holidays, and I think that tends to increase the risk for all of this."

Kantamneni warns that possible symptoms of heart attacks for women aren't always the same symptoms men have, such as pain and tightness in the chest.

"Women tend to not have the typical symptoms like the pain we usually associate with the heart. A lot of the time they can actually have things like indigestion or pain in the belly, rather than in the chest."

If a woman experiences any of those potential heart-related symptoms, she should seek medical help right then and not put it off until later, Kantamneni says. He adds that it's often more difficult to diagnose heart disease in women, so women may not know they're at risk.

Holiday heart tips are available at

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WI