Doctors warn heart risks rising in younger women

Cardiovascular disease leading killer of women in the US

Yesenia Berbiar woke up a little over a year ago feeling off. She had no idea she was suffering a life-threatening emergency.

DETROIT – February is Heart Month and doctors are concerned about an uptick in heart disease in adults under the age of 55 -- especially women.

It’s estimated that one in three women are living with some form of cardiovascular disease.

READ: Complete Heart Month coverage

Yesenia Berbiar woke up a little over a year ago feeling off. She had no idea she was suffering a life-threatening emergency.

“I just felt dizzy, I felt drunk, I didn’t really think anything of it,” Berbiar said. “And it wasn’t until I called my husband that he noticed a slur in my in my voice.”

By the time she got to the hospital, she couldn’t smile or speak. She was having a stroke, which doctors discovered was caused by an undiagnosed heart condition that she was born with.

“I never in a million years would have imagined that it was going to happen to me,” Berbiar said.”

This Heart Month, doctors are reminding everyone that heart trouble can strike at any age.

Health experts believe increased stress could be behind the rise in heart risk in women under 55.

READ: Metro Detroit doctor encourages people to pay more attention to their heart health

Symptoms for women can be different -- shortness of breath, jaw or back pain or in Berbiar’s case, weakness on one side of the body.

Both women and men are less likely to get checked out right now.

A recent survey found 32% of Americans and 53% of heart disease patients have ignored at least one troubling symptom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Please go to the doctor and get checked and if you have symptoms,” said cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum. “Don’t hold out, go to the emergency room and take care of yourself.”

Berbiar said she initially resisted calling 911. It’s a mistake she doesn’t want other women to make.

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About the Authors:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.