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Book Review: A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life by Mellanie True Hills

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For 20 years now, heart disease has killed more women each year than men. Statistically, 40 percent of women will have a cardiovascular problem in her lifetime, and heart disease kills more women than every type of cancer combined. Women have different heart symptoms than men, and yet most of us, including physicians, do not know this.

"It's shocking!" is the first sentence of Mellanie True Hills' A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life. Hills learned the hard way, undergoing a heart attack and a stroke very close together. As she had none of the obvious risk factors (she was young, didn't smoke, had low cholesterol and blood pressure, and was not diabetic), she thought she was safe. What she was, however, was overweight and overstressed, and that in itself is enough.

It also didn't help that it was hard to recognize her heart attack symptoms – shortness of breath, fatigue, mild nausea and heartburn, and a bit of left shoulder and jaw pain. The acronym to remember here is LIFE: Left side pain in shoulder, neck, or jaw, Indigestion, nausea, Fatigue often accompanied by sleeplessness, and Exertion that seems more severe than normal. As it turns out, most women do not experience the crushing chest pains that most male heart attack victims experience. Women have subtle symptoms, but the same deadly outcome.

The HEART plan has five components: Healthy Eating, Exercise Daily, Attitude Toward Stress, Rest, Relaxation, and Rejuvenation, and Take Proactive Control of Your Health. Hills presents checklists, quizzes, and easy to follow and understand programs to help women move forward in all five areas.

Hills' book is very clear, easy to follow, and to the point. It is a quick read, but encourages readers to take the time to really look at their own lives and make positive healthy lifestyle changes. There is good advice on diet, exercise, stress reduction, hormones, and how to recognize a heart attack or stroke when it's happening. Even if you think you are healthy, you should read this book.

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