- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Women Heart Attack Symptoms
Statistics for Heart Attacks in Women
In the United States 1.5 million heart attacks occur annually with 500,000 deaths and 233,000 women will die. Sudden death is more common in women partially because women do not always recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. Symptoms for women can be slightly different than those for men.
As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, the grim reality of women under the age of 40 who have heart attacks are twice as likely to die than men. In the U. S. a heart attack occurs in someone every 20 seconds.
Most of the deaths occur outside of a hospital setting within the first hour, which is why it is so important to call 911 if you have any symptoms. Certainly erring on the side of protecting yourself is the most important consideration. Women tend to wait 2-4 hours longer to get help when having a heart attack than men, which would account for the higher death rate.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women
While the most common sign of a heart attack is chest discomfort, women often have other symptoms and the chest discomfort is not the most prominent symptom. Symptoms that are common in women are:
- Shoulder, upper back, neck, inner arm or elbows, earlobe, jaw or neck pain are not uncommon.
- Shortness of breath.
- Profuse sweating.
- Dizziness or lightheartedness.
- Unusual fatigue.
- Unusual headache, particularly when coupled with other symptoms.
Sometime women might feel they have the flu or indigestion, when they are actually having a heart attack. Due to the fact that there is a relatively short time frame for treatment of a heart attack, it is very important to get to an ER. Call 911 if you have the symptoms listed above.
Cardiovascular Heart Disease Risk Factors
While the typical risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as, genetic predisposition, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity, play a role in women's heart attacks, there are other factors pertinent in women's heart disease.
Fat around the abdomen along with high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides is called the metabolic syndrome which has a greater impact on women than men.
- Depression and stress also have a larger impact on women.
- Smoking for women is also a greater risk than it is for men.
- After menopause the low levels of estrogen also poses a more significant risk.
Women under the age of 65 should pay particular attention to the risk factors if they have a positive family history for heart disease.
Diagonal Ear Lobe Crease a Factor?
There have been some studies which indicate cardiovascular heart disease if the person has ear lobe creases, especially after 40 years of age. Interestingly enough the ear lobe creases have been questioned for centuries. Publius Aelius Hadrianys (Hadrian) the emperor of Rome (117-138 CE) fell ill and died at the age of 60. He was sculpted with deep creases in both ear lobes.
One thousand patients were examined for ear lobe creases and evaluated for cardiovascular disease. The result revealed a high correlation between the people with creases and heart disease. There are still mixed views of this correlation by physicians.
Ear Lobe Crease
For a Healthy Heart
While you cannot change the genetic component of heart disease, there are several things you can do to prevent a heart attack.
- Eat a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables, low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.
- Exercise regularly, preferably 30-60 minutes daily and Yoga is helpful as it also reduces stress.
- If you smoke, it is important to quit.
- Keeping your weight in a normal range is important.
- Take a baby aspirin a day as a preventative measure.
A cup of green tea daily, eating cashews nuts and getting plenty of sleep are all helpful in reducing your risk of disease. Reducing stress on the job or in the home is very important to maintain good health as stress is a factor in many diseases.
Women's Heart Attacks Misunderstood
February is Heart Month. It is a time to become familiar with all the symptoms of heart disease, particularly the differences between men and women. As women have a higher death rate it is imperative for women to understand the differences and what to do in the case on an emergency. Calling 911, taking an aspirin and sitting until the ambulance arrives is the best way to treat this medical emergency.
Risk for Heart Disease
Do you do things to help reduce your risk of heart disease?
© 2012 Pamela Oglesby