In recent years, studies have shown that women are at risk for heart disease just as much as men, even more in some cases. Heart disease, not cancer or other diseases, is the number one cause of death among all women over the age of Sixty Five. If you are a woman you are four times more likely to die of heart disease than you are breast cancer or cervical cancer. Heart disease kills more women in the United States than all types of cancer combined, including breast and cervical cancer.
The difference in women and men is that women typically develop heart disease later in life when compared to men. By age 65, a woman’s risk for heart disease is equal to that of a man and the rate of heart attack among women 35 to 55 years of age has increased significantly in the past 20 years. It is important that you begin taking care of your heart at an early age. Of course, it is never too late to begin caring for your heart. There are a number of things that may make you predisposed to heart disease but there are also many things that you can do to lower your risk of developing heart problems.
You should understand that the symptoms of a heart attack in women are much different than those in men. While pain or discomfort in the chest is evident in both men and women having a heart attack, other symptoms for women include nausea, pain in the back, jaw or neck, sweating for no plausible reason, sudden fatigue or dizziness and vomiting or indigestion. If you experience any of these symptoms you should see a doctor right away. Although the most commonly reported heart attack symptom is the same for women as it is for men: chest pain or discomfort, women can have a heart attack without the slightest bit of discomfort in the chest. Other symptoms could signal a heart attack and if you experience any of the above symptoms you should head to the emergency room instantly.
Women are also less likely to survive a heart attack then men. This has not been explained and no one really knows the reason but studies have shown it to be true. Many researchers feel that women simply do not seek treatment for heart disease or heart attacks as quickly as men or it could be that they do not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack like they should. Women also have smaller blood vessels and smaller hearts than men so they can become more easily damaged during a heart attack. Whatever the reason, women should acquaint themselves with the symptoms of a heart attack and be sure to get regular physicals, particularly after age 40 and if they have a family history of heart disease.
Some of the biggest factors that can contribute to heart disease and heart attack in both men and women include smoking, high blood pressure, and family history of heart disease, high cholesterol and age. You should consider your family history and general health. You can discuss your risk factors with your doctor and although there is nothing that you can do about a family history of heart disease or your age, you can take certain steps to ensure that you minimize other risk factors. If you smoke, quit. Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks in women. More than half of all heart attacks that affect women younger than 50 are directly related to their smoking. When you stop smoking you can decrease your risk of heart disease by 33 percent in just the first 2 years. Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, eat right and get plenty of exercise. Heart disease is a leading killer of women and the sad truth is that most women who have suffered heart attacks could have prevented them had they known more about heart disease and how it affects the female population. Learn your specific risk factors for heart disease and then do what you must to lower your risks.