Heart disease No. 1 killer in U.S.
Cherokee Nation citizen Lyn Behnke, right, and her friend Anissa Emery cross the finish line after walking across Michigan’s Mackinaw Bridge nine months after Behnke had heart surgery.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country, with a coronary episode occurring every 25 seconds.
The CDC also states that Native Americans are second highest in heart disease-related deaths. The most common heart disease is coronary heart disease, which is often seen as a heart attack.
Lyn Behnke, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Tawas City, Mich., said she suffered a heart attack in December 2008.
“At age 50 I flunked a stress test significantly,” Behnke said. “I didn’t have any symptoms other than being tired. I’m a nurse practitioner, and I’m also a musician as well, so I had a lot of things going on. I figured I was tired because I was busy.”
She said fatigue and a minor ache in her neck were all the symptoms she experienced. But it turned out she had a mild heart attack.
“I had a funny little ache in my neck, so I called my primary care provider and said ‘I think I need an MRI of my neck.’ She said ‘you need to look at your (heart health) risk profile. You’re 50 now. Your lifestyle is stressful. You are a little overweight. Your blood pressure is a little up, and I think we should do the stress test.’ So she did and I flunked it spectacularly,” Behnke said.
A month later, Behnke had triple bypass surgery after doctors discovered artery blockages.
“I had two 95 percent blockages and a 90 percent blockage in my arteries. So I was just staring a heart attack in the face, but for the grace of God go I,” she said.
Behnke was fortunate, but some are not. Heart attacks can occur quickly and be intense. However, some occur more slowly with mild pain and discomfort, such as Behnke’s. Those affected are sometimes unsure of what is wrong.
According to the CDC, some signs of a heart attack are chest discomfort with uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain; discomfort in other upper body areas such as arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; shortness of breath; and breaking out into a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Heart disease is commonly thought of as a man’s disease, but it is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. According to the CDC, women account for nearly 50 percent of heart disease deaths.
There is also a misconception that the disease is only for older people. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women aged 65 years and older, but it’s also the third-leading cause of death in women aged 25-44 and the second-leading cause of death in women aged 45-64.
For men, the average age for a first heart attack is 66 years. Between 70 percent and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men, according to the CDC.
For Native Americans, it is important to recognize factors that increase heart disease risks such as arrhythmia, heart failure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use and secondhand smoke. Behnke said the two factors she sees in Native cultures that cause heart problems are getting away from traditional diets and tobacco abuse.
However, there are ways to prevent heart disease, such as exercising and developing healthier eating habits.
Behnke, who is a member of WomenHeart – the national coalition for women with heart disease, said there is not a great representation of Native American women and heart disease.
“So consequently, since we are not in the news and our face isn’t out there. People don’t think about Native women having heart disease, and it’s rampant in our community, particularly with the diabetes and the high blood pressure,” she said.
Since her surgery, Behnke has become healthier through exercise. She has lost 30 pounds, but said it is a continuing struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“I am probably healthier than I have been in years. I haven’t really changed my diet because that was never an issue…I exercise ever day at least six days a week,” she said. “It’s not something you can do for awhile and just quit. I think that’s the biggest challenge. It’s a big struggle. I had an 80 percent lesion (blockage) in my artery and I took it down to 60 percent lesion with exercise. So it makes a huge difference.”
Behnke said the biggest barrier for most women is finding time to exercise.
“Grabbing that extra half an hour, you know, having the family put off dinner for an hour. I might be late to a sporting event or dinner, but the exercise comes first.”
By JAMI CUSTERjamiemail@example.com • (918) 453-5560
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎻ. — ᏚᏅᏙᎵᏤᎲ Ꮎ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎥᏳᎩ ᎠᏂᎪᎵᏰᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᎴᏫᏍᏙᏗᏍᎩ, ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏧᎾᏓᏂᎵ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎪᏛ ᏗᏓᎴᎲᏍᎦ ᏓᏂᏲᎱᏍᎦ ᎠᎭᏂ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎢᏔᏬᏍᏔᏅᏊ ᏂᏕᎦᎵᏍᏔᏁᎬᎢ.
ᎾᏍᎩ CDC ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎵᏁ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᎾᎿ ᏚᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᏓᏂᏲᎱᏍᎪ. ᏮᎪᏛ ᎾᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏚᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏚᏂᏢᎬ, ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᎤᏅᏂᎵᎯᎰᎢ.
Lyn Behnke, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎠᏁᎲ Tawas City, Mich.., ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏓᏅᏛ ᎤᏩᏂᎵᏞ ᎾᎿ ᎥᏍᎩᏱ ᏥᎧᎸ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ.
“ᎯᎦᏍᎪ ᏯᏆᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎥᎩᎪᎵᏰᎥ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏙ ᎤᎾᏄᎪᏫᏍᏗ ᎤᏩᎾᎦᎶᏨ ᏱᎩ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Behnke. “ ᏝᏃ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏱᏄᎵᏍᏔᏁ ᏓᎩᏯᏪᎬᏊ ᎢᎦᎢ. ᎠᏂᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏗᏁᎲ ᎦᏥᏗᏕᎵᏍᎩ, ᎠᎴ ᏗᏥᏃᎩᏍᏗᏍᎩ, ᎤᎪᏗᏃ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎪᏛ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲ ᏓᎩᏯᏪᏍᏗ ᎨᎵᏍᎬᎢ.”
ᎤᏛᏅᏃ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᎲ ᏳᏛᏗ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᎸᏍᎬ ᎦᎵᎬᏂ ᎤᏪᎯᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎾᏍᎩᏊᏃ ᎢᎦ ᎨᏒ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏩᎾᎦᎳ ᎤᏩᏂᎸ ᎤᏓᏅᏛᎢ.
“ᏍᏗᎩᏓᏃ ᏥᎩᎵᎨᎾ ᎠᏊᎯᏍᏓᏁᎲ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏮᎦᏥᎵᏃᎮᏔᏅ ᏴᏫ ᏗᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏂᏩᏛᎯᏙ ᎯᎠ ᏄᏪᏒᎢ ‘ᎨᎵᎠ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎡᏣᎪᎵᏰᏓ MRI ᎾᎿ ᎯᎩᎳᎨᎾ.’ ᎤᏛᏅ ᏣᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏣᏓᏅᏛ ᏄᏍᏗᏕᎬᎢ. ᎯᎦᏍᎪᎯᏃ ᎢᏣᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏃᏊ. ᎭᎴᏂᏙᎲ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏣᏍᏈᏍᏗ ᎾᏛᏁᎰ ᎠᎴ ᎭᏓᏅᏖᎸᏍᎪ.
ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᏍᏗᎩᏓ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏂᏣᏓᎨᏒᎢ. ᎩᎦ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏛᏙᎭ, ᎠᎴ ᎨᎵᎠ ᎡᏣᎪᎵᏰᏓ ᏣᏓᏅᏛᎢ.’ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᏛᏁᎸ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎨᏎᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Behnke.
ᏏᏅᏓ ᏭᏟᎢᎶᏝ, Behnke ᎠᏥᏰᎳᎴ ᎠᎴ ᎦᎾᎦᏘ ᎤᏩᏛᎲ ᏦᎢ ᏂᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎩᎦ ᏧᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᏚᎵᏍᏚᎮᎢ.
“ᏔᎵᎭᏃ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎩᎦ ᏧᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᏧᎧᎵᏨᏋ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏐᎢ ᎩᎦ ᎤᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᎵᏍᏚᏃᏅᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ. ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎾᎥ ᏄᏍᏗᏕᎬ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏛ ᎠᏋᏂᎵᎯᏍᏗ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎤᏁᎳᏅᎯ ᎤᏓᏙᎵᏍᏛ ᎠᏆᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏔᏅ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
Behnke ᎠᏥᏙᎵᏤ, ᎢᎦᏓᏃ Ꮭ. ᎩᎳᏊ ᎢᏳᏟᏍᏓ ᏲᏩᏂᎵᎦ ᎣᏓᏅᏛᎢ. ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᎤᏍᎦᏃᎵ ᎢᎨᏐᎢ ᏍᏗᎠ ᎡᎯᏍᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ, ᎾᏍᎩᏯ Behnke’s ᏥᏄᎵᏍᏓᏁᎴ. ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᎡᎯᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎦᎪᏟᏍᏗ ᏱᎨᏐᎢ.
ᏄᏍᏛᏃ ᎤᎾᏅᏛ ᎯᎠ CDC, ᎢᎦᏓ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏙᏗ ᎣᏓᏅᏛ ᏯᏱᎵᏙ ᎤᏓᏛᏅᏍᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎥᎦᏁᏥ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎠᏢ ᎦᎨᏓ ᏥᎨᏐᎢ, ᎩᎶ ᏣᏓᏢᎢᎰ ᎾᏍᎩᏯ, ᎧᎵᎴ ᏥᎨᏐ ᎢᎦᎦᏛ ᎡᎯᏍᏗ, ᎤᏦᎠᏎᏗ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᎥᏰᎸᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏘᏍᎨᎾ, ᎯᏐᎯᎢ, ᎯᏴᏣᎾ, ᏘᏳᎨᎾ ᎠᎴ ᏣᏍᏉᏟ; ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎧᏬᎳᏕᏍᏗ; ᎠᎴ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎠᎵ ᏴᎦᎴᏴᏍᎦ, ᏧᏓᎦᏍᏔᏂᏕᎾ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎸᏕᎯᏓ.
ᎣᏓᏅᏛ ᏧᏂᏢᎩ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯᏊ ᎢᎦ ᎠᏁᎵᏍᎪ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏩᏍᎪᎵᏴ ᎢᏧᎳ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯ ᏓᏂᏲᎱᎯᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ.
ᎤᎾᎦᏎᏔᏅ CDC, ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᏴ ᎨᏐ ᏓᏂᏲᎱᎯᏍᏗᏍᎪᎢ.
ᎠᎵᏗᏍᏊ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎦᏴᎵ ᎤᏅᏌ ᎠᏁᎵᏍᎪ. ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏧᏂᏢᎦ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏭᎪᏛ ᏓᏂᏲᎱᏍᎦ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎦᎸᎳᏗᏢ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ, ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᏦᎢᏁ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏓᏂᏲᎱᎯᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏅᎦᏍᎪᏅᎩ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ.
ᎯᎠ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪ ᏑᏓᎵ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎬᏱ ᏳᏅᏂᎵᎦ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏛᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ percent ᎠᎴ ᏁᎳᏍᎪ ᏐᏁᎳ percent ᏯᏂᎠ ᎤᏟᏍᏓ ᎤᏅᏂᎵᎯᎰ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯ, ᎤᏂᏩᏛᏓ Ꮎ CDC.
ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᎹᏰᏟ, ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎪᏟᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏁᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏟᎢᎴᎬ ᎣᏛᏅᏛ ᎣᏢᎢᏍᏗ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏧᏂᏢᎦ, ᎦᎸᎳᏗ cholesterol, ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᎩᎨ ᎡᏙᎲ, ᎤᏍᏈᏍᏓ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ, ᎧᎵᏎᏥ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎯ, ᏦᎳ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏃᎦᏒ ᏧᎦᏒᏍᏛ ᎤᏓᎭᏴᏢᎢ.
Behnke ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏄᏓᎴ ᎠᎪᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎪ ᎯᎠ ᏚᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᏚᏂᏢᎬᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎳ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ, ᎤᏙᏢᎭ ᎦᎦᏁᏟᏴᏍᏗ ᎬᎴᏫᏍᏙᏙᏗ ᎣᏓᏅᏛ ᎥᏳᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎯᎠ ᏱᎾᏛᏁᎵ exercising ᎠᎴ ᏓᏤᎸ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.
Behnke,ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎨᎳ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎤᎾᏓᏝᎬ ᎯᎠ ᏧᏙᎩᏓ Women Heart---ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏚᎾᏅᏛ ᏧᏂᏢᎦ, ᎤᏛᏅ Ꮭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏯᏂ ᏯᏁᎳᏗᏙᎰ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ.
“ᏫᎾᏗᎦᎵᏔᏂᏒᎢ, ᏂᏗᎦᏓᏃᏣᎸᎾ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏕᎦᎦᏛ ᏂᏓᏂᎪᏩᏗᏍᎬᎾ ᎨᏒ. ᏴᏫ Ꮭ ᏯᎾᏓᏅᏖᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏚᎾᏓᏅᏛ ᎤᏅᏂᎵᎯᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏂᎬ ᎡᏙᎲ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏕᎪᏢᏒᎢ, ᏭᎪᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎧᎵᏎᏥ ᎠᎴ ᎩᎦ ᎤᎾᎵᏌᎳᏓᏁᎯ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
ᎦᏰᏥᏰᎳᎸ, Behnke ᎨᏴ ᏓᏤᎵ ᏙᎯ exercise ᎾᏛᏁᎰ. ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᏦᏍᎪᎯ ᎢᏳᏓᎨᏓ ᎤᏲᏎᎳ, ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎠᏟᏂᎬᏁ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯ ᎤᏕᏗᎢ.
“ᏃᏊᏥᎦ ᎠᏎ ᏭᎪᏛ ᏙᎯ ᎾᏃ ᎢᎸᏍᎦ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ. ᏝᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᎩᏁᏟᏴᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎦᎵᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎬ ᎾᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ Ꮭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᏆᏛᏗ ᏱᎨᏎᎢ……. ᏂᏓᏙᏓᏈᏒ exercise ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰ ᏌᏊ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏩᏌ Ꮭ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ ᏝᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏝᎦᏊ ᏰᏂᎦᏴᏛᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎬᏑᎵᎪᏍᏗ ᏱᎩ. ᎯᎢᎾ ᏭᏔᏅ ᎠᏓᏁᏄᎵᏍᎩ. ᎤᎪᏓ ᎠᏦᏎᏍᏗ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏁᎵᏍᎪ percent ᎤᎵᏍᏚᏕ ᎾᎿ ᎩᎦ ᎤᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᏃᏊᏃ ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪᎯᏊ ᎾᏍᎩ exercise ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲᎢ. ᎤᎪᏛᏃ ᎠᏓᏍᏕᎵᎭ ᎯᎠ ᏅᏛᏁᎲᎢ.”
Behnke ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏭᏔᏅ ᎤᏂᎾᎯᏍᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎪᏛ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏝᎾᏅᏕᏗᎢ.
“ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ ᎢᎬᏛᏗ, ᏣᏅᏔᏃ, ᎠᏓᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᏑᏟᎶᏓ ᎢᏴ ᎣᏂ. ᎡᎵᏊ ᏯᎨᎪᏂᏲᎦ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ exercise ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᎬᏯ ᎦᎷᎦ.”