Heart disease is the number one killer of women over 40. In fact one woman in every four dies of heart disease. Therefore it behoves all women to learn about the signs of heart disease and not to ignore symptoms if they should occur. There are also things that you can do to prevent heart disease. Take steps today to lower your risk.
In 1991, Dr. Lenfant cited that there are a number of important differences in heart disease between women and men. In 1993, cardiologists said that women's hearts are different from men's hearts. In 2000, doctors realised that family history does play a part in heart disease in women, and doctors realised in 2004 that women and men share similar risk factors for heart disease. Even today women are less likely than men to get treatment for heart disease.
There are several types of heart disease women can get. The most common type is coronary artery disease. If ignored, a myocardial infarction, heart attack, is likely to occur. Atrial Fibrillation is the most common kind of heart problem that causes an irregular heart beat. Mitral valve prolapse, enlargement, is a heart valve disease that affects six per cent of women. Three times more women than men have mitral valve stenosis, which is a narrowing of the mitral valve. Cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease, is a type of progressive heart disease found in some women. Any of these heart diseases can lead to heart failure.
There are some symptoms of heart disease that are common in both men and women. One such symptom is pressure or pain in the chest called angina, the most common symptom of heart disease. Another symptom is shortness of breath, especially after exercise or exertion. Other signs are an irregular heart beat, a rapid heart beat, weakness or dizziness, and excessive sweating. The problem is that all these symptoms can be the result of other things, so people tend to ignore them.
Signs More Common in Women
Women's heart disease symptoms are often subtle. Many women never experience chest pain. Women usually develop heart disease about ten years later than men. Unexplained fatigue seems to be a common symptom. Having cold sweats, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, a burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen, nausea and sense of impending doom are signs of heart disease in women.
African American Women
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, African American women are less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, but they are more likely to die from heart disease. This is because African American women are more likely to develop heart disease as a complication of other health problems. They may be subject to poorer health care, poverty and language obstacles. As heart disease develops, African American women have more intense and frequent headaches, vision problems and difficulty breathing when lying down.
Most risk factors are shared by both men and women. Therefore if you smoke, have high blood pressure, high total cholesterol over 200 mg/dl, have a family history of heart disease, have diabetes, are overweight or are physically inactive, you are at risk of developing heart disease. Women who are menopausal because of oestrogen loss are at an increased risk of getting heart disease.
The number one thing you can do to lower your risk of heart disease if you are a woman is to avoid or quit smoking. Almost as important is to take care of your other health problems. Lose weight if you are overweight. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Eating healthy will reduce your risk of heart disease signs no matter what your weight is. Exercise, at least 30 minutes three times a week, will help you lose weight and keep your heart healthy.