\u201cI thought I had the flu\u201d \u2013 it\u2019s how many women describe heart attacks, chalking up symptoms to less worrisome conditions like acid reflux or old age. For many, heart trouble strikes with no symptoms at all. \u00a0 \u201cWomen need to realize that heart disease is their primary killer, more than all cancers combined,\u201d says Dr. Nancy Branyas, director of the Women\u2019s Cardiac Risk Clinic at St.Vincent. \u201cThat\u2019s why it\u2019s vital to assess risks.\u201d \u00a0 Women\u2019s heart disease symptoms often differ from men\u2019s. Classic signs, says Branyas, include mid-chest pressure (not pain), radiating to the jaw or left shoulder, with shortness of breath and nausea. Atypical symptoms might just involve shortness of breath when going up a flight of stairs \u2013 something commonly seen with diabetics. \u00a0 Risk factors include those we can control: obesity, smoking, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure or cholesterol \u2013 and those we can\u2019t: genetics and age. \u00a0 Whatever the case, the time for prevention is as soon as possible, not in our 70\u2019s. \u201cWe need to assess what could happen in the future and what we can do now to prevent heart disease,\u201d says Branyas. To that end, Branyas and her team typically start with a full cardiac assessment and, from there, customize next steps to each patient\u2019s needs. \u00a0 Despite the prevalence of heart disease, Branyas cautions that most wellness centers omit cardiac assessments because they require the expertise of a cardiologist, which most wellness centers don\u2019t have. Branyas\u2019 team will fill that gap at the St.Vincent Carmel Women\u2019s Center. \u201cWe were the first to have a cardiac wellness clinic in the Midwest and have dedicated many years to women\u2019s health,\u201d she says. \u201cNow we can offer that expertise alongside other disciplines in one venue.\u201d \u00a0 Whatever individual assessments reveal, it\u2019s wise to maintain a healthy weight to avert a slew of risks that follow obesity, says Branyas. She also urges women not to ignore symptoms or delay calling for help: \u201cIf you notice a change in what you can do physically, you need to be evaluated.\u201d \u00a0 Bottom line, know where your heart health stands and what you can do to impact it. \u201cLet us give you the tools,\u201d Branyas concludes, \u201cwe\u2019ll help you along the way.\u201d This March, St.Vincent Carmel Women\u2019s Center launches a new era in healthcare access for women at each stage of their lives. Join us for the Grand Opening event on Saturday, March 14, for a day of fun events, including free giveaways, tours, health screenings and more! Visit stvincent.org\/womenscenter for more information.