Unfortunately, many women believe that heart disease predominates in men and is less likely a threat to a woman’s health than conditions like breast or ovarian cancer. The reality is that approximately 1 in 2 women will die from heart disease or stroke, and during any given year, cardiovascular disease will claim nearly twice as many lives as all forms of cancer combined.
While it is true that cardiovascular disease tends to strike men approximately 5 to 10 years earlier than in women, after menopause, the rate of cardiovascular disease in women accelerates and approaches the rate in men. Women are also at risk for doing worse after suffering a heart attack than men. Part of this may relate to the fact that women are typically older and have more hypertension when heart disease strikes and, thus, less able to withstand such damage to the body.
The typical symptoms of heart attack include chest pressure, tightness, or pain that may or may not radiate to your jaw, shoulders, or down your arms. If you are experiencing a true heart attack, these symptoms can come on at any time of the day or night, and can occur during rest or activity. The important consideration is that these chest sensations usually persist for more than 5 to 10 minutes (chest sensations resolving earlier than this time may be a warning sign not to ignore) and do not resolve with rest. Symptoms commonly associated include shortness of breath, clamminess, sweatiness and a nauseated feeling. Palpitations, light-headedness, profound fatigue, a heartburn-like sensation in the upper portion of your abdomen, confusion or agitation, and even a “heaviness” in your legs may occur.
Silent heart attacks are more common in older, typically female individuals, and those with diabetes, a history of smoking and prior heart disease. While these heart attacks are considered “silent,” in reality, many individuals will complain of new ill-feelings, including shortness of breath, fatigue or nausea that arise over the span of several days.
Learning about the warning signs and ways of prevention of heart attacks is one of the first steps to fighting cardiovascular disease. Listening to your body when something does not feel right is the second. Discussing these issues with your doctor and understanding the ways of prevention will allow you to follow a personally tailored prevention program that maximally reduces your risk for the years to come.
Posted in: Cardiovascular Disease