Women and heart disease. Are we risk free?

September 12, 2017 Heart Diseases 10525 Views


People often consider heart disease as “men’s disease”. This misconception makes women more ignorant of the risks. Most women are so busy taking care of everything and everyone around them that they tend to fail when it comes to their own health. Moreover, the symptoms of heart diseases in women are unrelatable. So, most of often, the people either ignore it or wrongly diagnose for something else. As a matter of fact, heart diseases rank 1 amongst the serious killers of women all around the globe. This is what makes it a concern that needs to be addressed immediately by doing periodic heath checkups and consulting a cardiologist.

Heart disease symptoms for women

Certain heart diseases such as Coronary microvascular disease (MVD) and broken heart syndrome affect more women than men. Also, there’s age factor, lifestyle and physiological factors that altogether make a woman more vulnerable to heart diseases than man. However, some common symptoms that are often over looked include

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Discomfort in the neck, haw shoulder, upper back or abdomen
  • Difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath
  • Unexplained pain in arms
  • Nausea, vomiting and excessive sweating
  • Dizziness and unusual fatigue.

These symptoms may or may not necessarily indicate heart disease. But the doctors often count them amongst the most common ones. Also, it is worth mentioning that women can get heart attack even without the obvious chest pain or any sort of discomfort in the heart. However, women with chest pain or tightness (as they define it) are more prone to heart attacks since it might be indicative of blockages in the minor arteries of the heart, leading to a condition called coronary microvascular disease.

Risk factors for women

Apart from the traditional risk factors such as obesity, smoking, elevated levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure, there are many more lifestyle and physiological factors that push women to high risk of heart diseases. Some of them are

  1. Mental stress, emotional disturbances and depression
  2. Broken heart syndrome – women are considered emotionally weaker than men and this is why they are more susceptible to heart muscle failure and eventually, broken heart syndrome.
  3. Menopause and pregnancy related complications– Menopause is marked by low levels of estrogen and this increases the risk of heart diseases in women. Also, several pregnancy related complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes add on to their miseries.
  4. Sedentary lifestyle and smoking – Women lead a more inactive lifestyle than men and this lack of physical work makes them susceptible to heart diseases. Moreover, studies have found that smoking does more bad to women than men. So inactive lifestyle plus smoking together can increase risk of heart diseases by several folds.

What can be done?

It is clear that women are at no lesser risk of heart diseases than men. Fortunately, you eliminated many of the risk factors by making changes to the lifestyle and keeping an alert eye on every single health issue irrespective of how unrelatable to the heart disease, they seem to be. Amongst the others, the very first change should be the one made to diet and exercise routine. Women should include as many fruits and vegetables as possible. And they exclude trans fat, saturated fat and salt from the diet. They should keep a check on their weight and consult the physician if the BMI goes abnormal. Regular exercise or at least a 30 minutes’ walk should form unavoidable part of their routine.

The good news is that if precautions are taken, changes to the lifestyle are adopted along with proper medication, women can lower their risk of heart diseases to a great extent. All it takes is awareness, timely reporting of the symptoms and appropriate measures.

Heart diseases are serious conditions regardless of your age or gender. For more information, you can contact your nearest cardiologist. Click here to book an appointment. 

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