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Women and Heart disease

Heart disease remains the most influencing disease as far as women in United States are concerned as according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Women remains at the highest end of risk associated with Heart disease, though they are less susceptible than men in that case. It is however another fact that women are susceptible to some heart disease that are completely different than men for that matter.

Some of the facts related to heart disease in women as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include –

  • Heart disease remains the major cause of death among women in United States with 289,758 deaths in the year 2013 and which is 1 in every 4 female deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.3
  • About 5.8% of all white women, 7.6% of black women, and 5.6% of Mexican American women have coronary heart disease.
  • What is more disheartening that almost 65% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease do not show any pre-symptoms. This number is though higher than their male counterparts.

Symptoms of heart attack in women

The most common symptom for a heart attack for both men and women can be pain and concussion in the chest but women can develop some new symptoms and understanding that becomes very important for us. While sometimes there can be no symptom before an attack, but others can experience Angina (dull, heavy to sharp chest pain or heavy discomfort), pain in the neck/jaw/throat or pain in the upper abdomen or in the lower back area and that which can resonate. These might occur while you are working or period of physical inactivity or might get triggered by mental stress as well. While in the case of women, they might notice severe pain, they tend to ignore early signs and which eventually leads to increased problems. This increases the risk when an attack occurs with no previous symptoms at all. The symptoms for various heart diseases in women are

  • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
  • Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include: confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.

The symptoms and their impact might sometimes be subtle and any presumption of the fact of time gaps can be fatal to the health of women. Women might describe chest pain as pressure or tightness because they tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart – a condition which is called small vessel heart disease or coronary microvascular disease, largely common in women only.

Risk factors in women

About 50% of the Americans having heart problems carry one of these three possible risk factors in their lifestyle – High Blood Pressure, high LDL Cholesterol and Smoking. Women on the other have similar lifestyle choices and carry the similar risk factors associated with men. The risk factors include

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy complications

How can these risk factors be screened?

There can be various ways in which the risk factors associated with heart disease in women, some of which can be –

  • Control Blood Pressure – to prevent heart disease, one must control their blood pressure. Have a proper blood pressure check periodically.
  • Control diabetes – control excess intake of cholesterol and highly fatty foods in order to control diabetes.
  • Quit Smoking – for a healthy life, quitting smoke is a must.
  • Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your healthcare provider.
  • There must be a healthy selection of diet and food to complement the health.
  • Reduce stress at home and work space.
 

Reference- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

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