2 Things Women Should Know to Protect Their Heart Health
According to the American Heart Association, “Cardiovascular diseases kill 1 in 3 women, but up to 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented.” Because women sometimes experience milder symptoms of heart disease, it can be more difficult to recognize the warning signs. Be proactive in protecting your health – learn the signs and risk factors of heart disease and heart attacks in women.
Risk Factors of Heart Disease in Women
In order to prevent health complications caused by heart disease, it’s important to know your risk factors. Risk factors include:
- Having a family history of heart disease, especially if family members have had heart attacks at age 50 or younger.
- Being inactive.
- Experiencing mental stress and depression, which can make it more difficult to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Having high hemoglobin a1c levels if you have diabetes.
It's also important to know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Understanding this information helps you partner with your primary care provider as you both work towards maximizing your health.
Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women
The most easily recognizable symptom of a heart attack is crushing pain in either the center or left side of your chest. But some women may not experience chest pain at all - symptoms of a heart attack can vary between women. Some symptoms women may experience include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Neck, jaw, shoulder, back and/or abdominal pain.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Indigestion, which may feel slightly different than typical heart burn.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms that are outside of what is normal for your body, it’s important to pay attention. Quick action is crucial when it comes to treating a heart attack. If you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
About the Author
Gayatri Acharya, MD, is a cardiologist with Cone Health Medical Group Heart Care at MedCenter High Point and Northline Avenue.