Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. The more you know about heart disease and the symptoms, the better chance you have of surviving. Heart attacks in women can have different symptoms than in men.
Symptoms of heart disease can include discomfort in your chest, nausea, heartburn, throat or jaw pain, feeling dizzy, swelling in your legs, feet and ankles, and pain that spreads to the arm. It is important to be aware of a few facts about gender differences as well as risk factors relating to women. Also, activities that may lower your risk of heart disease are important actions of which to be aware.
Facts about gender differences in heart disease relating to women include:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of hospitalization and death among midlife and older women.
- Women are more likely to have delayed care for emergent cardiac illness than men.
- Women younger than 50 have higher in-hospital mortality
- Women have smaller coronary arteries than men and these can occlude more easily than those in men.
- Women have a higher resting heart rate than men. These findings contribute to a higher incidence of false-positive stress tests.
- Women experience more epigastric pain and shortness of breath than typical chest pain during a cardiovascular event.
The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure, or discomfort in the chest. But it’s not always severe or even the most prominent symptom. And, sometimes, women may have a heart attack without chest pains. Women are also more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms of a heart attack, especially shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain, sweating, dizziness, and unusual fatigue.
Risk factors for women:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- Excess weight and obesity
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol intake
Although there are some risk factors that you cannot change, such as age, gender, and genetics or family history, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease. Since heart disease has a number of factors, you can lower your risk by adopting as many prevention tips as you can.
Tips to lower your risk of heart disease:
- Don’t smoke
- Be more active
- Eat healthy
- Reduce stress
- Treat depression
- Control weight
- Control blood pressure
- Get good sleep
- Get regular health screenings
Check out our Certificate in Women’s Health Issues for more information on heart disease and other women related health issues, including mental health, oral health, LGBTQ issues, self-care, and wellness.