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    Un-Break Her Heart

    Toni Braxton Faces Her Heart Disease With Courage


    An additional barrier is that women do not perceive heart disease as a real problem. According to the American Heart Association, less than 20% of women consider heart disease a threat, despite the fact that it's the No. 1 killer of women, taking more women's lives than all forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

    "Instead of wasting your time worrying about symptoms, just get it checked out," says Goldberg, who has had many patients confess to her, after a medical procedure, that they hadn't been feeling well for a long time. "Women are very in touch with their bodies, and they know when something is not right."

    Mona Lisa Schulz, MD, a neuropsychiatrist and the author of Awakening Intuition and the newly published The New Feminine Brain, also believes that women inherently know when something is amiss and should be more willing to act on it.

    "It's important that women always attend to the first symptoms in their bodies," she says. "These symptoms are part of the feminine brain's intuition that lets you know something is out of balance in your life. The sense of warning and foreboding increases and escalates until you actually get an illness. Your body has to get your attention because every symptom is part of the body's way of saying that something needs to be attended to."

    But Schulz also wants to make sure that women see a physician to check out the symptoms. "You always want to balance your right-brain intuition with left-brain fact," she says, suggesting that women develop and trust their intuitive awareness by discussing these subjects with friends, counselors, or spiritual advisors or going to doctors who specialize in emotional issues.

    For Braxton, her biggest hit, "Un-Break My Heart," has taken on special meaning. "I always hear older people saying, 'When you sing songs, they actually become your life,'" she says. After her bout with pericarditis and healing her own heart, she's helping other women prevent the breakage in the first place. For Braxton, it's now all about harmony. The proof is her newest album, titled Libra -- her astrological sign, symbolized by the scales of balance.

    But Braxton emphasizes that paying attention should apply not only to heart disease but to any illness. She's especially gratified when fans follow up with her. "Often they'll say, 'I went to the doctor and got myself checked out,'" she says. "It makes me feel good."

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