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.