What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women?
How Common is Heart Disease in Women?
Heart disease has long been considered a killer of men. But the truth is women are getting heart disease at increasingly alarming rates. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability in women.
As women age, it only makes sense the risk of heart disease increases. But it does not have too. So with that being said, lets us take a more progressive approach; educate ourselves about the symptoms and start working toward prevention.
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Take it from Real Women
Signs of Heart Disease in Women
If you are constantly feeling tired and drained even when you have had a good nights sleep, this may be a sign of heart disease. Just what are the common signs and symptoms of heart disease in women? Some of the signs listed below are the same for women as men but many are not, in fact, some are unique to women. Educate yourself about the heart disease facts:
- One of the first signs, a woman with heart disease will notice, is shortness of breath. This may occur in many ways from having trouble breathing during exercise or sleep to having shortness of breath when in a stressful situation. The heart cannot supply enough oxygen to the lungs causing them to build up fluid.
- Women with heart problems often have sleeping problems. This may be from a buildup of fluid on the lungs waking them up in a need to cough or experiencing a feeling of not being able to breath. Some say that heart problems lead to Sleep Apnea and may experience chest pain during sleep. Lack of exercise is directly linked to sleeping problems which in turn attributes to heart disease. You could say that it is one big circle.
- Women with heart disease experience digestive issues because the digestive system is receiving less blood. The result being a lack of appetite and nausea.
- Women with heart problems often experience feeling of nervousness or anxiety for no apparent reason. Panic attacks are common with woman and heart disease. Think about it, all of your major organs are being deprived oxygen, your physical health seems to be failing; it only makes sense that this affects the nerves.
- Some studies show that women with heart disease are more likely to experience migraine headaches. The exact reason for the connection is not known at this time.
- Chest pain in women is less severe than in men having a heart attack. They are more likely to have a heavy or tight feeling, a burning (often mistaken for heartburn) or a burn between the shoulders. The pain is also more likely to go to the jaw, neck and shoulders or in the arms. All this can be due to an overall lack of or limited oxygen to the heart.
Causes of Heart Disease In Women
There are many causes of heart disease in women listed below. Some of us are pre-disposed to the risk factors making the risks higher in certain individuals. These genetic factors do not in any way have to be a life sentence. Let's first educate ourselves on what they are and then later we can discuss prevention.
- High blood pressure raises your chances of getting heart disease and heart attack significantly. In the normal adult woman, the systolic reading should be between 120 and 130 and the diastolic reading between 80 and 90.
- High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors of heart disease in women. Like most of us who have tested high for cholesterol, you understand that it is a fatty substance carried in our bloodstream. Normally, the liver makes enough cholesterol for the body to use; the problem arises when we consume extra cholesterol in the foods that we eat. The result being a build up of plaque in our arteries, limiting or even blocking the flow of blood.
- If you have diabetes, you are at risk for heart disease. Heart problems are the leading cause of death among people with diabetes.
- Being overweight in itself can cause higher cholesterol and blood pressure which increases the chances of coronary artery disease.
- Smoking cigarettes increases your chances of heart disease because it increases your heart rate and and tightens the arteries; raising your blood pressure and throws off the timing of heartbeats. This makes your heart work more than it should. Nicotine, tar other chemicals found in cigarettes such as carbon monoxide are bad for the heart leading to a build up of plaque.
- Lack of exercise makes woman at risk for heart disease more than people who exercise regularly, because it burns calories, helping to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Even moderate exercise strengthens heart muscles if done regularly.
- Though we can get many good things from our families, we may also get our families risk of heart disease. So if your parents or siblings have had heart problems before the age of 55, then you are at a much greater risk of developing it. Menopause also plays a part in heart disease because changes in hormonal levels may inhibit the break down of fat more; thus, increasing the chances of blood clots forming.
- As we grow older, our hearts do not work as well as they used to. The walls of the heart thicken and the arteries become less flexible so the heart pumps less and less blood to the muscles of the body.
Prevention of Heart Disease in Women
There are many medications available in treatment for women and heart disease. But I have chosen to discuss lifestyle changes instead. If you are truly interested in changing your lifestyle I recommend reading the book to the right. .
The following are heart health tips for women in the prevention of heart disease:
- Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Buy a gym membership and consult with a trainer. Work on a plan that is right for you. If you have a physical disability preventing you from moving, ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist. They will be able to set up a physical activity program based on your capabilities. Making this a daily reginum can actually prevent and reverse heart disease.
- Consult with your doctor on the healthy weight for you. Make realistic weight loss goals that you can achieve. I can almost guarantee that as the weight disappears, so do many of the aches and pains
- Take steps to quit smoking. There are numerous programs that you can join to quit smoking. Educate yourself on the triggers that make you smoke and change them.
- Eat a heart health diet that is low in saturated fats. I suggest changing your diet slowly. Identify those pesky foods that you should not be eating. The more that you eat the foods that are good for you, the more you will crave them.
- There may also be some herbal supplements that may help you with controlling your high blood pressure or cholesterol. Start to read and research for yourself or consult a Natural Doctor. Don't be afraid to ask your medical doctor what they recommend. You just might be surprised. My doctor actually recommended Vitamin D, CoQ10 and Flaxseed.
- Though I usually advocate for a natural approach, when a preventing heart disease the services of a physician are imperative. Have your cholesterol checked at least once a year with a simple blood test. If it is high, work daily to lower it and know your own risk factors.
- Educate yourself on the latest home gadgets that may help you monitor your own health.
After reading this article, are you are risk for heart disease?
If you are a woman, read all that you can on how to improve your heart health. If you are in one of the risk groups posted in above, please pay attention to your own body seek help. Just a little prevention can literally add years to your health.
Research Center for Women's Heart and Vascular Health