Heart Disease in Women

Know the signs of a heart attack in women

If you’re a woman, you should know the symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Tingling hands
  • Aching teeth or jaw
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea/indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety and depression

Your symptoms may differ from the classic signs experienced by men such as tightness in the chest, arm pain and shortness of breath.

Despite a better understanding of heart disease in women, the statistics are still disheartening:

  • Heart disease is the largest cause of death in women.
  • Women are two times more likely to die from a heart attack than men.
  • There are six times more deaths from heart attacks than from breast cancer and two times more than ALL cancers combined.

But take heart…there is good news. Studies show that women’s hearts respond better than men’s to lifestyle changes such as:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Exercising more
  • Losing weight
  • Reducing caffeine
  • Lowering stress

When treated with the right medication and program, women improve.
In recent years, science has also been looking at plaque build-up in arteries. In women, plaque tends to spread out along the arteries instead of forming major blockages. This type of build-up is more difficult to detect in tests but still poses a major risk. While the tests are still important in predicting heart disease, you need to consider other risk factors such as:

  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity (especially belly fat)
  • Stress
  • Age

The more risk factors a woman has, the greater her chances for developing heart disease. Risk for heart disease increases after the age of 40 due to a drop in estrogen. As women age there is a tendency to be less active making it harder to lose weight creating a greater risk for high blood pressure and diabetes. Also with a drop in estrogen, arteries don’t dilate as well which can restrict blood flow.

What’s a woman to do?
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Get moving. Even 10 minutes of exercise will dilate arteries for improved blood flow. Exercise can also help manage weight. Losing even 10 percent of your body weight unloads the heart, lowers blood pressure and reduces incidence of diabetes.

Talk with your doctor about your risk factors, make appropriate lifestyle changes and be aware of the early warning signs of heart disease.

For more information, call (608) 775-2235 or (800) 362-9567 ext. 52335.

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