Death and life

Merry Belated Christmas and A happy new year.

Christmas is a time of celebration, of remembrance. And it is always hubby’s birthday. However, this Christmas, my granny passed away suddenly and shockingly of a heart attack.

Poh Poh - you are loved and missed. Rest in peace...

Being away from home, its very sad that I was not able to pay my last respects to my lovely, robust grandmother who always has a crinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. I can even remember her laughter. She spoke to us in Hainanese and I reply in my broken one.

She was a strong lady, a very independent one, and even with diabetes, beating breast cancer over 15 years ago and knee pains, she was jovial and able to do alot on her own. Thats why, this heart attack, this silent killer, came as a shock to us all.

Dear Poh Poh, I’m sorry I didnt spend more time with you when you were around and once again I’m regretting it. Once again I feel i could have done more. I will you dearly.
Love, “anung”.

Death. And Life. We dont like to think about death, but its inevitable. Do you know where you are going after you die? Death of my grandmother has brought back a flood of memories about the untimely passing of my little bro. It opens up the question of what are we doing with our lives and how we utilise it? Especially when we are still able bodied.

I have read about heart attacks in women and how it can kill.

 

From an article in The Star Online, March 2011

Question: What are the leading causes of heart disease amongst women?

Answer: The most important risk factors are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, high fat intake, sedentary lifestyle and smoking.

In addition, women also have a higher risk of CVD as they age, due to the physiological changes associated with midlife and menopause, i.e. their natural protection against heart disease – oestrogen – reduces with menopause.

Heart disease also affects women about 10 years later than men. That said, younger women need to take care of their heart health as well, and we urge every Malaysian woman to start thinking of their hearts and to minimise their risk of heart disease by living a healthy lifestyle.

Question: Early recognition of the symptoms of a heart attack can save lives. What are the obvious symptoms of heart attack in women?

Answer: Women are subject to the same risk factors as men, but a woman undergoing a heart attack may not experience the same warning signs as a man.

Angina, or commonly known as chest pain, is an early warning signal of a heart attack. You will feel a sudden squeezing in the chest that spreads to the arms. This is because your heart is not getting enough oxygen due to plaque buildup in your coronary arteries.

Other symptoms are generally more atypical in women – breathlessness and fatigue. This is compounded by the fact that women play multiple roles and they, more often than not, waive these symptoms aside as “normal tiredness” and as part of the ageing process.

And when they seek treatment, at times, they are not appropriately diagnosed, thereby delaying treatment.

Other possible symptoms are swelling in the legs and feet, leg pain with walking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Question: As has been said often enough, prevention is better than cure. So the important question is, how do I, as a woman, prevent the onset of heart disease?

Answer: Maintaining a healthy weight goes a long way to maintaining a healthy heart. Practise a healthy lifestyle by exercising daily for 30 minutes (with a moderate intensity).

Eat moderately, as well as eat the heart-healthy way – choose high-fibre and low-fat foods, and reduce salt intake.

Another simple, yet highly effective preventive step, is to quit smoking, because smoking damages the heart and blood vessels.

Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and know your family history – any members in your family with diabetes, high blood pressure and premature heart disease (below age 55 for a man and below age 65 for a woman) should trigger warning signals to pay extra attention to your heart health. You should consult a cardiologist for screening if you fall into the high-risk group.

Statistics (US)

Heart Attack Facts

1.5 million heart attacks occur in the United States each year with 500,000 deaths.
More than 233,000 women die annually from cardiovascular disease.

A heart attack occurs about every 20 seconds with a heart attack death about every minute.
Sudden death is more common among women with heart attack.

The National Registry of Myocardial Infarctions (New England Journal Med., 22Jul99) reports that women have a worse outcome than men after having a heart attack. Data showed that women under the age of 50 had twice the mortality of men after having a heart attack. Variances likely reflect increased severity of the disease in younger women.

Almost 14 million Americans have a history of heart attack or angina.

About 50% of deaths occur within one hour of the heart attack ––outside a hospital.

There is a 6% to 9% early mortality from heart attack for those who survive long enough to reach the hospital.
From 1983 to 1993, heart attack deaths fell about 30% overall but have not fallen nearly as much for women.

Studies show the most common time for a heart attack to occur is Monday morning. Saturday morning ranks second. Another common time is during the early morning hours, when blood platelets are stickier.

Deaths from cardiovascular diseases in women exceed the total number of deaths caused by the next 16 causes.

60% of women erroneously listed cancer as the leading cause of death among women. Deaths from all cancers in the USA are half as common as deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Only 31% of women know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the USA.

On the average, women take 2-4 hours longer than men to respond to symptoms of heart attack, limiting the beneficial use of some newer treatments like clot busters that work best within the first hour after onset of pain or discomfort.

Chewing an uncoated aspirin right away, at the first sign of chest discomfort or distress, can reduce the amount of damage to the heart muscle during a heart attack.

Costs related to heart attack exceed 60 billion dollars per year.

Serving God

I read somewhere that someone wanted to serve God in ministry. Always wanted to. But was struck with cancer and too weak to serve. She regretted that all those years she was healthy, she let other things crowd out serving the Lord and she was always too busy. I dont want to end up like that but it seems that I’m also always too busy! If I have any more kids I will be too busy for myself too!

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