Posts Tagged “women and heart diseases”
Are the symptoms of heart attack the same for men and women? Previously, it was considered that men and women had different symptoms of heart disease; however, this may not be the fact. Both men and women may undergo non typical or typical warning signs such as sweating, pain in the throat, arm, jaw, nausea, unusual pain and severe pain in the center of the chest. However, women may often describe these signs differently than men. Yet, the most common warning sign in men and women is still chest pain. Here we have shared a few facts about women and heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease (stroke and heart disease) ranks second in the list of life threatening diseases in women. Some of the heart diseases may errupt suddenly, while few may develop gradually. Women tend to protect themselves from heart disease before their menopause because of the conservative or preventive effect of estrogen (hormone). However, few cases may have a different scenario. For instance, a diabetic woman in her pre-menopausal period is at the same risk as men of the similar age, since diabetes eradicates the protective or preventive effect of estrogen.
Unique Conditions in Women Related to Stroke and Heart Disease
While majority signs and risk factors of heart disease are same for men and women, there are a few unique factors that develop the risk of cardiac disease in women. The factors that affect women’s health include:
- Oral contraceptives or birth control pills
- The role of estrogen
- Hormone therapy and menopause
Every year, thousands of people die from cardiac arrest because they do not receive the required medical assistance immediately. Learn to identify the symptoms of cardiac arrest, so you can immediately get the medical aid and save your life. It is significant to understand that the alarming signs may differ for each individual and they may not essentially be severe or sudden.
Although discomfort or pain in the chest is the most common sign of a cardiac failure in both women and men, some patients will not undergo pain in chest at all, while others will suffer only gentle discomfort or chest pain. Few may experience a single symptom, while others may suffer a combination of signs. The common symptoms of heart attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort (squeezing, uncomfortable chest pressure, heaviness or burning, pain or fullness)
- Light headedness
- Discomfort due to pain in other upper body areas (back, jaw, arms, shoulder, neck)
If you observe any of these indications even in their gentle form, you must:
- Call your local emergency number or 911 immediately or ask someone to call for you. Make sure that you keep a list of emergency phone numbers all the time near your phone.
- If your doctor has prescribed you nitroglycerine, take it in your regular dosage.
- Stop all your activities and lie down or sit in your most comfortable position.
- Rest comfortably till the ambulance with medical personnel arrives
- In case of severe chest pain, take 2 aspirins of 80 mg each. It is also called acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Other pain medicines such as Advil or Tylenol do not work as the ASA does, and hence they cannot be used in emergency situations.
Steps to Prevent Heart Attack
It is a fact that heart attack is more prominent than breast cancer among women. It has three times more possibilities of developing in women. In the duration following menopause, the risk of heart disease significantly rises. But it can be prevented by taking certain steps or by making certain changes in the lifestyle.
- Be Active: Being active means doing physical workout regularly for protecting the heart. You can try various workout styles, including regular aerobic as well as swimming and walking. Take stairs instead of an elevator or perform aerobic activity (fast walking or cycling) with moderate intensity for around one to two hours. Cycling helps a lot in burning extra fats and thus helps to control cholesterol.
- Lose Weight if You are Overweight: Obesity can be called a disorder which is present in every five women among ten. Carrying extra pounds increases strain on the heart and a person tends to increase her chances of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which also elevate the risk of heart attack. Try to avoid being overweight and maintain your weight.
- Regular Medical Checkup: If you are above 40 years, ask your doctor for health checkup in order to assess your risk of getting heart disease. Your regular medical checkup should include cholesterol level test and blood pressure checkup. If the level of cholesterol or blood pressure is high, this means you are at a higher risk of developing cardiac disease. Your health care practitioner will prescribe few medications and will recommend certain lifestyle changes to reduce the blood pressure as well as the level of cholesterol.
- Change your Body Shape: As your weight, your shape also matters a lot. Most women in the age group of 40 to 60 become apple shaped due to the deposition of excess fat around the waist portion. Women with apple shape body are at more risk compared to the women with pear shape body, where extra fat is concentrated on the hip portion. Having a waistline around 80 cm can reduce your risk.
- Drink Occasionally: Drinking a little amount of alcohol can be good for the cardiac system, but assure that you follow the limits wisely. Excessive consumption of alcohol may increase your risk. Heart healthy drinking (one to two units per day) is ok, but if you drink beyond this, you may increase your risk. Binge-drinking or excess alcohol may impair the muscles of the heart to cardiac failure or abnormal heart rhythms.
- Quit Smoking: If you are a smoker, then you are at higher risk of getting heart attack. For the past few decades, even women have started smoking, which has increased their risk of getting a cardiac arrest early. Actually, young women are more into smoking as compared to young men. Restricting cigarette smoking will reduce your prospects of developing cardiac arrest.
- Don’t Rely on Hormone Replacement Therapy: It was considered that HRT (hormonal replacement therapy) for treating menopausal symptoms can work as a preventive solution for heart disease. But recent studies state that this therapy is not protective, instead it has some side effects with certain drug treatments. You can prefer to take HRT if you require it for getting relief from the night sweats and hot flushes during menopausal duration, but don’t expect that this will protect your cardiac system.
- Maintain Your Diet: Eat healthy and balanced diet always. Avoid intake of excessive saturated fat and salt; recommended quantity for per day is less than 6g.
- Cope with Your Stress: Many studies have revealed that stress increases one’s prospect of heart disease. Learn to deal with stress and try to relax if you often remain under stress. Your doctor can suggest you certain simple techniques that are helpful to cope with stress and anxiety that affect you in your daily life.
These are the facts that connect women and heart attack. Your prospects of getting a cardiac disease can be reduced by following the above mentioned preventive tips wisely.
People often tend to think that heart disease occurs only in men, but this is not true. The reality is that cardiovascular disease is one of the fatal diseases in women as well. Considering this fact, it is significant for women of all ages (particularly above 40 years) to understand the risk factors of heart disease in women and take the required steps and measures regrading it.
Unfortunately, the death ratio of women due to cardiovascular disease and stroke is more than men. To protect the health of your heart and keep your prospects of developing heart related diseases as low as possible, it is essentially significant for you to keep a track of the risk factors and try to control them. Women should be always be alert about the leading threats to their health care. Somethings you always need to keep in mind are that certain risk factors contribute highly for developing heart problems in women as compared to men. Although heart attack in women mostly occurs in early seventies, cardiac disorder is a threat at any age. The death rate of women due to cardiovascular disease is more prominent than breast cancer. All these facts and numbers point towards only one thing: you need to learn which stroke and heart disease risk factors should be your point of concern as a woman and which can be controlled? Let’s take an overall look.
Leading Risk Factors of Heart Disease in Women
These risk factors cause problems in both men and women; however, studies state that they may contribute to a large extent to develop cardiac problems in women.
Diabetes: Women with diabetes are 4 to 5 times more prone to heart disease than women without diabetes. Meanwhile, men with diabetes are two times more elevated to heart problem as compared to the men without diabetes.
Decrease in the Level of Estrogen: Diabetes and lower levels of estrogen in women are linked with each other. Younger women who have diabetes tend to have decreased estrogen level and an abnormal ovulation cycle. This is mostly due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); even older women who are diabetic have some history of a hormonal imbalance. As per studies, it is observed that women who have a history of PCOS are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Experts still completely don’t understand the link between heart health and estrogen level.
Depression: This is often linked with higher prospects. Doctors have still not confirmed if here is any biological basis for the connection or it’s because people under depression tend to skip workout, smoke often, miss appointments of doctors, and eat unhealthy foods, which as a result increase the risk of developing cardiac disease. More women undergo depression as compared to men, so it creates a huge impact on prospects of women.
Birth Control Pills: Use of birth control pills, especially if you smoke, will increase the level of C0 reactive protein (CRP).
Traditional Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease in Women
These factors equally contribute in increasing the risk of getting cardiovascular disease in both, men and women
Family History: If any your parents had or have heart related disorder, your prospects of getting it increases. Risk also tends to be greater for Mexican Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Americans, African Americans and few Asian Americans.
Age: Above 83 percent of people who are prone to death due to cardiovascular disease are above the age of 55.
Obesity or Overweight: Even if you are away from other risk factors, being obese or overweight increases your chances of heart disease, especially if you have accumulated fats around the mid-section of your body.
High Cholesterol Level: As the level of the cholesterol in your body goes up, your prospects for cardiac disease also raises.
High Blood Pressure: When the blood pressure raises, the heart has to perform harder. This creates pressure on the heart and thus elevates your risk.
Metabolic Syndrome: According to the definition, a combination of two or more of these risk factors–insulin resistance, a large waistline, elevated triglyceride levels and low levels of required cholesterol–increase the risk for cardiac disorder, but the risk for men as well women is equal. Metabolic syndrome also elevates the chances for diabetes.
Although cardiovascular disease is often considered as a problem for men, a large number of women as compared to men die every year due to this medical condition. The warning signs of heart disease in women may be different from the signs in men. Luckily, women can take the required measures to understand their unique signs. Heart disease should not be treated as any other less threatening medical condition. Try to find your risks and take as much efforts you can to minimize your risk of developing this type of disease.
What are the Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease in Women ?
Pressure, pain and discomfort in the chest are some of the most common signs of heart disease. Moreover, in women, it’s not always extreme or the most prominent sign. Women often develop “atypical heart diseases symptoms” such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual fatigue
- Pain in throat or jaw
- Pain in upper abdomen, indigestion
- Feeling of nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pain in shoulder, neck and upper back
- Arm pain (particularly in the left arm)
These signs are more elusive than the usual squeezing chest pain commonly associated with heart attack. Since women do not show severe symptoms, their heart problems remain unnoticed and thus untreated for a long time. Women often tend to have obstructions not only in the major arteries, but also in the minor arteries through which blood is supplied to the heart. This condition is referred as micro-vascular disease or small vessel heart disorder.
Many women visit their doctor after much damage to the heart. This is because their symptoms are subtle and do not typically indicate heart related diseases. If you undergo any of these signs or think you may be at risk of getting a heart attack, call 911 or emergency medical aid quickly. Call and try to go in an ambulance instead of driving yourself.
Does Heart Disease Occur Only in Older Women?
No. Women below the age of 60 who have diabetes or have family history of cardiovascular disease should be more concerned about their risk factors. Heart disease may occur at any age and thus women of all ages need to be alert about it.
What Measures Should be Taken to Lower the Risk ?
- Follow a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay active and perform regular workout
- Quit smoking
- Reduce or cut off the intake of foods rich in fats and cholesterol
Other than these measures, you may require to take prescribed drugs and medications regularly. This may include aspirin, blood thinners and blood pressure medications. Some women prefer to take supplements (omega-3 fatty acids) for reducing the risk.
So, in all it can be said that the risk factors of heart disease in women can be reduced by taking certain measures and maintaining conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure that increase your risk for cardiac disorders.
As per research and study of the American Heart Association, nearly one among every four women in the United States has some sort of heart disease (cardiovascular disease). This number is greater than the number of women who die due to other medical conditions such as breast cancer, lung cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The National Women’s Health Information Center states that although heart disease is fatal for both men and women, the rate of death is high in women. Types of heart diseases in women include stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease (chest pain, heart attack) and high blood pressure, arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, angina and other diseases of the circulatory system.
Different Forms of Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
Cardiovascular disease or heart disease arises due to several problems that create interruption in the normal functioning of the heart and the arteries in the heart. Symptoms of cardiovascular disorder in women are often subtle and hence get overlooked. Being acknowledged about the warning signs of this medical condition can help you to get the treatment at the right time and thus can save your life. Here are a few types of diseases related to the heart:
Coronary Artery Disease (Coronary Heart Disease)
This is the most common type of cardiac disorder. It affects the coronary arteries or vessels that supply blood to the heart. It often causes heart attacks and angina. Since heart related issues tend to develop with age, women above the age of 45 are at higher risk of getting them. As per studies, it is found that the death rate due this medical emergency is high in black women as compared to white women. Certain risk factors such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, being physically inactive, etc., increase the chances of a person to develop this heart problem. However, by making a few changes in your lifestyle, you can cope up with this condition.
This is a form of heart disease, which involves hardening and thickening of the arteries. As we get older, hardening of the arteries is natural. This medical condition causes narrowing of the inner walls of the arteries due to the deposition of plaque (cholesterol, fats and other substances). Formation of blood clots block the blood supply to the heart, which can to lead to strokes and heart attack. Hypertension, obesity, not being physically active, smoking, diabetes, high level of cholesterol, etc., contribute to increase the risk for atherosclerosis.
When some part of the heart fails to receive adequate amount of blood supply, a feeling of discomfort and pain develops in the chest. It feels like a squeezing or pressing pain, often under the breastbone, which may further move towards the shoulders, neck, arms, back or jaw. The prime trigger for angina is excessive physical workout while other triggers can be extreme heat or cold, smoking, emotional stress, and alcohol. Angina rarely develops a permanent harsh effect on the heart such as heart attack.
Lack of blood supply to the brain may cause a blood clot or excessive internal bleeding in the brain, when any of the blood vessel gets ruptured. This may give rise to stroke. Cells of the brain begin to die if they do no receive enough oxygen and blood. Few women may also have transient ischemic attacks or mini strokes, where no damage is caused to the brain. Although they do not harm, they are serious and can lead you at greater risk of developing a full stroke. Diabetes, smoking and uncontrolled blood pressure all contribute to increase your chances of stroke.
Congestive Heart Failure
When the heart stops pumping blood through the body, a person is said to have heart failure. However, it doesn’t mean that the heart stops working actually. This condition develops in small stages as with time and may cause a huge impact on the lifestyle and ability to carry out routine activities such as bathing, getting around and dressing.
Congestive heart failure occurs due to congestion and accumulation of fluid. But this is the only symptom that develops in few people who undergo failure of the heart. Heart failure can be categorized into two types: systolic heart failure and diastolic heart failure. Each person may experience various symptoms for each category.
Systolic heart failure is caused when the ability of the heart to pump blood reduces. In this condition, the heart is not able to push adequate amount of blood to the circulatory system, resulting into the accumulation of fluid into the lungs, as the blood supply from the lungs towards the heart works for backup. This condition is known pulmonary congestion. If this condition is not treated on time, it may worsen the condition of the patient.
Diastolic heart failure refers to the condition in which the heart experiences difficulty in resting or relaxing. In diastolic heart failure, the ventricles ( lower chambers) of the heart become too stiff to expand and relax. They become unable to pump adequate amount of blood to the heart.
Heart Disease due to Infections
This is an inflammatory disorder which may occur when the streptococcus bacterial infection (strep throat or scarlet fever) remains untreated. This may lead to further complications. Rheumatic fever may damage the heart valves and develop brain, joints and skin problems. Symptoms of this disorder may include abdominal pain, fever, cardiac problems (chest pain or shortness of breath), skin rash, joint swelling or bleeding in the nose. Antibiotics are available to treat this condition.
This refers to an inflammation of the endocardium (interior lining of the heart), which develops as a result of bacterial infection. Patients undergoing this medical condition may experience excessive sweating, fever and chills. It may also cause joint pain, weight loss, abnormal urine color, weakness and shortness of breath. Women with a history of using intravenous drug or presence of congenital heart disease are at higher risk of developing endocarditis. It may also develop in pateints who had recent dental work or rheumatic fever. This condition can be treated with antibiotics and hospitalization in initial stages, but if remained untreated, it may develop serious complications such as severe damage of heart and stroke.
This condition develops due to the swelling and irritation in the pericardium (thin layer or skin that surrounds the heart). It generally remains for a short period, but causes sharp chest pain, similar to heart attack or angina. This condition often develops at a younger age and is generally caused due to viral infection that initiates cold. It may also result due to the viruses that are responsible for causing chicken pox, influenza, hepatitis B, rubella and mumps.
If you discover any of the signs that indicate a heart disease, rush to your health care provider. There are certain drugs and medicines that can help you to find a way out to reduce the risk factors and treat various types of heart diseases in women. Having healthy food and being physically active can also help you to lower your prospects of various cardiac disorders.