- Gender and Relationships
Does heart-break contribute to Heart Disease in Women?
Heart disease is the No.1 killer of women over age 25 in the U.S. Over 500,000 women die each year of cardiovascular disease versus 60,000 a year from breast cancer. Womens' symptoms of heart problems include nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, tightness or pressure in the chest, and palpitations. Some also have symptoms such as trouble sleeping, indigestion, and anxiety, so early detection can be hard as many women and their doctors chalk it up to stress.
But I have a theory about the underlying cause of heart disease in women. I think it is from heartache. Women suffer more heartache and heartbreak than men ever could. Women take stress and suffering and anger and internalize much of it. I think it's these factors over a woman's lifetime that add up to heart disease. I wouldn't even call it heart disease. I would just call it heartbreak buildup.
Now I don't say this to trivialize heart disease in women at all. It is truly a huge health problem for women. One that we should be aware of and learn how to prevent. But I don't think that my theory is that far off the mark. Look again at the symptoms of heart disease. If you didn't know we were talking about heart disease, what illnesses would come to mind? Anxiety, depression and heartache. Yep, that's what I thought.
Think about how most things on this earth break down? By wear and tear. By erosion. By abuse or misuse. How many of these things can be done to the human heart? All of them. You might say, "but these things are physically happening to an object, they are not just emotions". I beg to differ. Emotions play a powerful role in our bodies. When you are scared, you release adrenaline, when you are happy or have an orgasm, you release endorphines. So, what happens when you have a heartache? Whether from a loss of love or of life, there are plenty of physical symptoms. You feel pressure in your chest. Maybe some nausea, or lightheadedness. Your heart hurts, and you may feel fatigue as depression sets in. You may even feel anxiety as your thoughts are racing to find answers. The symptoms are not that much different from heart disease. Now we all know that one event of heartache is not going to give you heart disease. But what if repeated events, over an indidvidual's lifetime could cause enough damage to produce heart disease? I think its very likely.
How does a concrete bridge decay? Over time, and weather, and use by vehicles. How about buildings? They have a shelf life too. Made to last for so many years, they must be maintanenced to stand up to the wear and tear of the uses they were made for, not to mention the unintentioned abuses of what they were made for. The process is slow, undetectable to the naked eye. If stress affects our health negatively, as doctors say it does, then why not include heartache as a legitimate cause. I propose that heartache is the erosion that affects our physical hearts, not just our state of mind. Our worries, our fears, our loves lost, all add up to years of wear and tear on our hearts. Combined with a lack of good maintenence, like excercise and diet, we add tons of extra unforseen damage to the mainframe of our whole existence. Our heart.
So then how do you stop heartache from ruining your heart health? You can learn to practice a positive lifestyle and good coping methods to deal with your stress and heartache quickly and efficiently in the interest of your health. There is a saying "you have to love yourself before you can truly love anyone else". I think us women would do good to remember to actually love ourselves, and take care of our health and our heart at the same time.