Women and Heart Disease
Heart disease is something that both men and women need to watch out for! Though we often hear more about the connection between men and heart disease, heart disease is the top killer of women here in the United States. This deadly disease has many different factors to it and can sneak up on you. It’s time we take notice of those symptoms and make some healthy lifestyle changes.
Heart Symptoms for Women
Did you know that symptoms in women can be very different than that for men?! Women often have symptoms unrelated to the chest. How is that possible you ask? Well here are a few examples of heart attack symptoms in women:
- Shortness of breathe
- Pain in one arm or even both arms
- Discomfort in your abdominal area, neck, jaw, or upper body
- Sweating a lot
- Unusual Fatigue
As you can tell these symptoms aren’t extreme and can easily go unnoticed. Now that you are aware you should take extra precautions when experiencing any of these!
What Are The Risk Factors?
Due to the fact that women tend to downplay these symptoms – damage to the heart usually goes untreated in women. Men and women both have similar heart disease factors – such as high blood pressure and obesity.
- Diabetes. Women who have diabetes have a much higher risk of heart disease than men with diabetes.
- Mental stress and depression. Women’s hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men’s.
- Smoking. A bad habit that has shown a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
- Inactivity. A lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for heart disease, and some research has found women to be more inactive than men.
- Menopause. Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels (coronary microvascular disease).
- Broken heart syndrome. This condition is real — it is commonly brought on by stressful situations that can cause severe, but usually temporary, heart muscle failure — occurs more commonly in women after menopause.
It’s Time To Lower Our Risk!
It’s time to get moving – it all counts! Try and move your arms more when you talk, walk while you talk on the phone, the next movie night with the family stand up and do some dance moves when a good song comes on… as you can see there is always opportunity to add a little movement to your daily activities! When I am out and about running errands or picking up the kids from school I like to park far away from my destination and/ or take the stairs when available. These are all very simple activities that make a huuuuuge impact. The next time you brush your teeth, squat it out!
We have all heard this talk of ” drinking wine daily is just as good as the gym for one hour”…. is this true?? No, because most people drink more than one glass per sitting and they often drink irregularly. It only helps if you are consistently drinking 3 ounces a day. If you are an occasional drinker it is only increasing your risk!
What To Avoid
Watch the animal fat and protein – as tasty as leaving the skin on or cooking up a piece of meat with a little extra fat might be, it isn’t good for you. When choosing food that comes from an animal go for low fat, non-fat, or any type of lean option. When we leave the skin on chicken breast, the fat seeps into the meat while cooking, thus removing the skin later doesn’t do us any good.
Kim Shapira MS, RD