Heart Attacks and Women

AHA Go Red for WomenDo you know about the red ribbon campaign? It’s to raise awareness about the high rates of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks among women. The American Heart Association reports that cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, is the number one killer of women worldwide. Not breast cancer, not even all cancers combined. Heart and vascular disease.

Many women believe cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes affect only men. Others believe women need to worry about heart disease only in their older years. But those are myths!

Heart and vascular disease affects more women than men, and can attack women in their 50s, 40s, or even younger. One in three women die of cardiovascular disease.

Silent Cardiovascular Disease and Hidden Heart Attacks

Heart and vascular disease can be a silent enemy. Insidiously eroding your heart health without your being aware of it.

This deathly silence can include having a heart attack when the attack does not occur with the traditional heart attack symptom of chest pain/discomfort. A study in the journal Circulation showed that over 70% of women who had a heart attack did not report feeling chest pain when experiencing the attack. Having no chest discomfort during a heart attack may lead a woman to delay seeking treatment. That could be fatal.

A heart attack occurs when plaque build-up blocks blood from some section of the heart. The typical symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain, cold sweats, or shortness of breath. But heart attack symptoms may be different. It’s very important to be aware of these other symptoms of having a heart attack. One or more of the following may occur:

  • a strong unexplained sense of fatigue
  • discomfort in the upper back, jaw, chest, or upper abdomen
  • nausea/vomiting
  • lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • tingling down one or both arms or legs
  • a sense of indigestion/heartburn

Heart attack symptoms usually last 30 minutes or longer, and they may occur over a period of days. They may start as a mild discomfort and progress to significant pain. If any of these symptoms occur, do not ignore it.  The symptom may signal a heart attack, and it’s important to seek medical help immediately.

Heart Attacks and WomenCardiovascular Disease and Heart Attack Risk Factors

Becoming aware of your risk factors may be your best defense against having a heart attack or cardiovascular disease in any form. Most risk factors for cardiovascular disease are similar for women and men. Some main ones are:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • high blood cholesterol and triglycerides
  • being obese/overweight
  • physical inactivity
  • excess alcohol intake
  • high stress levels
  • family history of heart trouble

Advice for all women—be aware of the signs of heart attack and the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Know how you stand for each risk factor:

  • If you smoke, give it up now.
  • For blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, know your numbers—that’s the first step toward improving those numbers.
  • If overweight or physically inactive, develop a reasonable diet and exercise plan in consultation with your doctor.
  • For high stress levels, learn stress-reduction methods such as meditation.
  • Have a good talk with your doctor about all your risk factors and what you can do to safeguard your heart health.

Please be proactive against cardiovascular disease. And know all the warning signs of a heart attack.  Don’t let silence lull you into a false sense of security.

This info is purely created for awareness and self empowerment and is not for diagnosing of any medical conditions. Make sure to read my disclaimer.

Until next time, be well,


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