Reform Good for Women’s Hearts

When was the last time you saw a woman on TV have a heart attack?

Probably never. Only 20% of American women believe they are at risk for heart disease. Society’s view is that heart disease is a man’s disease. That’s what I thought too until I looked down at my own EKG in graduate school (circa 1978) and saw what appeared to be a right bundle branch block. I was shocked and terribly unsure why my EKG was abnormal.   Later I learned my condition had a name, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and I found the care I needed. I also found that no insurance company would cover me due to a pre-existing condition.

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about health reform and its impact on women and families including women denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Congress and the President have a long way to go before health reform is finalized.    Learn more, speak up more . . . but let’s keep this one goal in mind:  No more exclusion of coverage due to pre-existing health conditions.

In the interim, do you know your risk for heart disease? Some risks, such as age, family history, ethnicity, you cannot change.  Others, such as diet, exercise, stress management and smoking you can.

I’ve written before about the red dress campaign sponsored by the National Insitute of Health’s Heart Truth campaign designed to raise awareness of women’s heart health.  I’ll keep doing it, especially now that Congress and our President are focused on health reform and eliminating the injustice that exists for 8 milliion women such as myself living with heart disease who are subject to insurance discrimination.

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