Heart disease is frequently misunderstood as a predominantly male health concern. However, heart disease is among the leading causes of death for women in the United States and can strike at any age.
Heart disease has been demonstrated to have claimed more lives than all other types of cancer combined! There are several misconceptions concerning heart disease in women, and it is critical to raise awareness so that women have the knowledge and resources they need to avoid, identify, and manage this condition.
Understanding Heart Disease in Women
Heart disease refers to a variety of disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and heart failure. While some risk factors for heart disease are shared by both men and women, there are those that are unique to women.
Age: The risk of heart disease increases with age, and women over the age of 55 are at a higher risk.
Hormonal changes: The decline in estrogen levels during menopause is often associated with a higher risk of heart disease in women.
Pregnancy complications: Certain conditions that may arise due to any pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and gestational hypertension can increase the risk of heart disease later in life.
Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are known to be a significant risk factor for heart disease in women.
Mental health: Any kind of mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety have been found to have a profound impact on the heart health of women.
Facts about heart disease in women
Did you know? In the United States, almost 60 million women (44%) have some sort of heart disease. Despite this, barely about half (56%) of US women are aware that heart disease is their leading cause of death.
Studies show that it was responsible for the deaths of 310,661 women in 2021, accounting for around one in every five female deaths.
Preventing heart disease is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart among women. Here are some preventive measures to lower the risk for heart disease and precautions that women should incorporate into their lifestyles:
1. A Healthy Diet
Maintain a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Reduce your consumption of saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sweets.
2. Regular Exercise
Participate in regular physical activity of any kind. Aiming for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is a good place to be. However, before beginning any new fitness plan, consult with your primary care doctor to ensure you will not be doing something that will do more harm than good.
3. A Healthy Weight
Maintain a healthy body weight by enjoying a nutrient-rich diet and exercising regularly. Excess weight often adds strain to the heart and raises the risk of heart disease.
4. Quit Smoking
Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart disease. Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can improve cardiovascular health significantly.
Make routine consultations with your doctor to assess your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall cardiovascular health. Follow the screening recommendations based on your age and risk factors. Being in constant touch with your general practitioner can help majorly in spotting signs of heart disease.
Recognizing the Symptoms
Heart disease symptoms in women can be different from those experienced by men. It is important for women to be aware of the following symptoms so that necessary action can be taken.
1. Chest discomfort:
While chest pain is a common symptom, women may also feel unusual sensations such as a sense of tightness, pressure, or burning in the chest. Anything that feels out of the ordinary must be checked out immediately.
2. Shortness of breath:
Women may experience breathlessness even during regular daily activities or even while lying down.
In women, unexplained fatigue or exhaustion can be a sign of heart disease. This weariness could be unrelated to physical activity.
4. Other Symptoms:
Women may also experience discomfort in their upper back, neck, or jaw that cannot be explained by other factors. Some women can also develop symptoms similar to gastrointestinal problems, which might be an indication of heart disease.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.
Proper diagnosis and therapy are critical in the management of heart disease in women. The diagnostic methods that can be used are:
Once you have accurately been diagnosed, you can look at the following treatment options:
Medication may be administered to regulate blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart function, depending on your specific heart condition.
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, including having a balanced diet, regular exercise, and managing stress, is vital for taking care of your heart.
Procedures and surgeries
In certain cases, procedures such as angioplasty, stent placement, or bypass surgery can be necessary to restore blood flow to the heart.
This rehabilitation program involves supervised exercise, education, and support to help individuals recover from heart-related procedures and improve overall cardiovascular health.
Individuals can take proactive actions towards a healthier heart by recognizing the unique risk factors, symptoms, and preventive strategies linked with heart disease in women. Remember that early intervention and lifestyle changes can help to reduce the burden of heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health. At Access Health Care Physicians you can connect with a physician of your choice and get started on a healthier, informed lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since women's arteries are smaller than men's, coronary artery disease manifests differently and more diffusely. In addition, CAD in women tends to affect smaller arteries that supply the heart.
This is a national health education program that promotes heart health and encourages individuals to pursue heart-healthy lifestyles.
Heart diseases impact almost one in every five women in just the United States. It is therefore important to raise awareness about its symptoms and precautionary steps that women can take in order to prevent it.