by Terence Baker | March 01, 2007

Stepping off a plane in 2003, Mellanie True Hills ( felt shoulder pain and shortness of breath. When she told her doctor two days later, she was hours from suffering a full-blown heart attack.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 460,000 women died from heart disease in 2004, about one every minute. To protect other women from heart attacks, the Austin, Texas-based True Hills published A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health & Longevity (; $24.95).

“The key,” says True Hills, “is to be intuitive enough and educated enough so that you can help your doctor correctly diagnose the problem.” She explains that while men normally feel chest pain, symptoms in women tend to be more subtle, including left-side pain, severe indigestion, nausea, undue exertion and shortness of breath.

Another warning: Women who get just five or fewer hours of sleep two nights a week are three times more likely to have an attack.