According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than one in three female adults has some form of cardiovascular disease, and heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. Sounds scary, right? Yet, women often ignore heart risks and symptoms. Women have different symptoms of heart disease than men do, and women’s results fare worse than men. 53,000 women die from heart attacks every year. Because women’s heart attacks are harder to diagnose, they may not get the right treatment and lifesaving medications. The consequence is that more women (26%) die within a year of their first heart attack (men’s rate is 19%). Unfortunately, the research has still been mainly focused on men.
While the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort for both sexes, women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, indigestion, and palpitations. They may also experience shoulder pain, arm pain or pain the upper back, jaw, or neck.
Many of us still picture someone clutching his or her heart and collapsing in a heap while suffering a heart attack. That means women might not realize the danger signs and wait too long to see help. A man usually shows up in the emergency room within 15 hours of first symptoms. On average, it takes U.S. women more than two days.
While you can inherit some risk factors, you can control your habits and lifestyle. Let’s talk about how to prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Stop smoking. Women who smoke are several times more likely to suffer a heart attack.
- Control your blood pressure. Most heart attacks are cause by blocked arteries in both men and women. Work with your doctor to keep your blood smoothly flowing through your veins.
- Lower your cholesterol. Cholesterol resembles wax and is found in your blood, and helps your body build healthy cells. When your cholesterol is too high, it can leave fatty deposits in your blood, which increases your risk of heart attack.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy range is for you.
- Exercise. Two-thirds of American women don’t get the exercise they should, and an astonishing 25% are completely inactive. You only need thirty minutes of moderate movement most days, which could mean taking a walk, gardening, or dancing around the living room with your kids.
- Control diabetes. Talk to your doctor if your family has a history of diabetes as women with diabetes have three times the risk of heart disease.
For more information about women and heart health, visit: http://www.freep.com/story/life/2016/02/20/women-and-heart-health-know-your-risk-factors/80516090/