The heart is a muscle and requires oxygen to function normally. Oxygen is brought to the heart by arteries that carry blood. When blood flow is reduced, the heart cannot get enough oxygen. The arteries that supply the heart with blood flow can become narrowed by cholesterol, fat, and plaque. Heart attacks in men and women present differently. The typical heart attack symptoms we grew up learning about are more prevalent in men. The biological differences in men and women play a significant role in how heart attack symptoms are felt.
Women are more likely to experience a fatal outcome from a heart attack than men are. Also, women typically tend to have blockages in the main coronary arteries as well as in the smaller arteries supplying the heart. Small vessel heart disease is known as coronary microvascular disease. Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack is the key to surviving one. Early treatment improves the odds of getting through it.
Since symptoms of a heart attack in men are well known, let’s start with their presenting symptoms.
Symptoms of a heart attack in women can be the same as in men, but they most often present with symptoms that can mimic other health conditions, but in truth, they can be related to the heart. It is more likely for women to experience symptoms while resting. Emotional stress can be a trigger for the onset of heart attack symptoms.
Signs of a Heart Attack in a woman may include:
Many of these symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, abdominal pressure, and dizziness can be misdiagnosed and blamed on depression or stress. Even things like acid reflux, the flu, or normal signs of aging. Some are given antidepressant medication. These symptoms should be clinically worked up to rule out heart disease as early treatment can be the difference between life and death.
Risk factors for heart disease in women include:
The following risk factors affect men but are even higher risk factors for heart issues in women:
Lifestyle changes reduce the risk of heart disease Modifying lifestyle choices can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease in women. Modifiable behaviors include:
Choose red wine. It dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow.
Heart issues are the leading cause of death in women. Women are more likely to die after suffering a heart attack than men!
Know the symptoms of a heart attack in women and what to do if you have any symptoms. Some doctors may prescribe low-dose aspirin daily to lower the risk of another heart attack. It is NOT recommended to start taking aspirin as a preventative step unless ordered by your doctor. If you have had a heart attack, consider participating in cardiac rehabilitation. This will help in your recovery and improve your overall health.
Be informed and stay well!
Author Profile: Christine Kijek, Registered Colorectal Nurse
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