Conference, two fascinating doctors (one of them Dr. Mehmet Oz) and Barbra Streisand talked about women's health. The Conference was a bi-coastal event produced by the Paley Center for Media. Streisand , 69, looking amazingly young and fresh-faced, spoke from the Paley Center's Los Angeles office. She reeled off some surprising statistics about women and heart disease as a way of introducing Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, who heads the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.At last week's TEDx Women's
Streisand noted that four percent of women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually while 44 percent are diagnosed with heart disease. And even though heart disease is often called a man's disease, since 1984 more women than men have been dying from heart disease annually. Worldwide, while four hundred thousand women die of breast cancer, over eight million die of heart disease. Streisand said she was surprised to find that there has not been enough research done about heart disease in women, and that's why she has supported Dr. Merz's groundbreaking work.
Dr. Merz , who is trying to close the gender gap in heart research, pointed out that over the past forty years we have developed effective therapies for women with breast cancer that have saved many lives. Now it must be the time for us to encourage, support and fund the research that can develop more effective therapies for treating heart disease in women.
Today women frequently die during their first heart attack. Part of the problem is that women have different symptoms than men. Men usually have a "Hollywood-style" heart attack with pain in their chest. This is caused by fatty plaque, blocking or breaking away from an artery. Doctors can recognize and treat this emergency condition. Women have very different symptoms when experiencing a heart attack, sometimes feeling very tired with flu-like symptoms that may not be correctly diagnosed. That's because women with heart disease often have a different formation of plaque in their arteries. Dr. Merz said, "We have learned that women have microvascular coronary obstruction, which is harder for doctors to detect with traditional methods." When women have male pattern disease they are often successfully treated but are not treated as effectively when they have microvascular coronary obstruction.
Still, Dr. Merz said that in the last fifteen years, there have been great strides in research, including work with stem cells. "Just like women raised money and awareness for research for breast cancer," she said, "women now have to become advocates for their hearts."
The second doctor who spoke at the Conference was the ebullient Dr. Mehmet Oz. He talked about the importance of physical activity as the prime way to keep people young and strong. "Fraility is the number one cause of death in this country , " he said. "What kills us is that we are so frail when we get cancer or heart disease we can't weather the treatment that could save our lives."
He also showed a chart of the five factors that control seventy per cent of how one ages. They are:
· Blood pressure. (Optimum blood pressure is 115/75.)
· Stress control.
· No cigarettes and other toxins.
· Exercise 30 minutes a day.
· Healthy diet that you love.
He pointed out that the endurance you have at 17 can be maintained through physical exercise until you are 65. And he gave a tip that your belly size should be less than half of your height. The big issue, he said, is how much muscle you have compared to how much fat you have. "Muscles burn calories even when they are not exercising. You must do exercise including weight lifting, exercises with deep breathing like yoga, tai chi." He concluded that to keep your bones strong, your brain cells functioning, and to live long and maintain your strength, you must exercise at every stage of your life.
Click here to see videos from the TedXWomen conference.
Myrna Blyth is editor-in-chief of ThirdAge.
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