Preventing Heart Attacks in Women: Lifestyle Changes Every Woman Should Make
Preventing Heart Attacks in Women: Lifestyle Changes Every Woman Should Make
The symptoms of a heart attack don't always manifest themselves in women the same way they do in males. The typical heart attack symptoms that affect men, such as a crushing chest pain that travels down one arm, don't always manifest in women. Women can suffer such heart attack symptoms, but many often have hazy or even "silent" symptoms that they might not notice.
The signs of heart attack in a woman
An interruption in the blood supply to the heart can result in a heart attack, which is a potentially fatal situation. Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack that are unique to women may encourage someone to seek medical treatment more quickly, potentially saving their life.
Compared to men, women have a lower chance of surviving their first heart attack. This might be as a result of gender-specific symptoms. Women are more prone to experience odd symptoms or suffer a "silent" heart attack.
Additionally, certain disorders that raise risk, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), are not present in male biology, which results in distinct risk factors for heart attacks in women.
Chest pain or discomfort: Chest pain or discomfort is the most typical heart attack symptom in both men and women.
It might be characterised as tightness, pressure, squeezing, and aching.
Sleep disturbances: In the weeks before having a heart attack, over half of the women in the 2003 study reported having sleep problems.
These disturbances could include: trouble falling asleep odd nighttime awakenings feeling fatigued despite getting enough sleep
Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw: This is typically non-specific and cannot be linked to a specific upper body muscle or joint.
Any of the following areas may be impacted: neck, jaw, upper back, or either arm.
It's possible for the pain to develop suddenly or for it to begin in one place and gradually extend to others.
Stomach pain: Before having a heart attack, some women may experience pain or pressure in the stomach.
Other digestive problems linked to a potential heart attack include: indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness: When coupled with weariness or chest pain, shortness of breath or heavy breathing without exertion may be a sign of a cardiac condition.
Some women may experience breathing difficulties while lying down, which subside when they are sitting up straight.
Sweating: Another typical heart attack symptom in women is excessive sweating without a known cause. Cold and clammy sensations might sometimes be a sign of heart issues.
Weakness: One typical acute sign of a heart attack in a girl is feeling weak or wobbly.
Anxiety, dizziness, fainting, or feeling lightheaded may also accompany weakness or shaking.
Fatigue: Unusual fatigue is often reported in the weeks leading up to a heart attack. Fatigue is also experienced just before the event occurs.
Even simple activities that do not require much exertion can lead to feelings of being exhausted.
Heart attack post-menopause: Many women mistakenly believe that heart disease only affects men. It's not. The leading cause of death in women is heart disease. In fact, beyond age 50, cardiovascular disease accounts for about half of all fatalities in women.
Women's risk for heart disease skyrockets after they turn 50, or around the time of natural menopause. Without estrogen, young women who have undergone surgical or early menopause are also more likely to develop heart disease. If a woman has experienced menopause and also has any of the following health issues or lifestyle factors, her risk increases:
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Inactive lifestyle
Your heart risk may be influenced by your race. Serious hypertension and heart disease are more prevalent in black individuals than in white people. Additionally, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans have greater heart disease risks. Increased prevalence of diabetes and obesity may be somewhat to blame for this.
Numerous research has been conducted on the dangers of heart-related risks and hormone replacement medication. Depending on your age, there are various potential benefits that are indicated.
Heart attack risk is unaffected in women who went through menopause fewer than ten years before beginning hormone replacement therapy. The same is true for people who took it between the ages of 50 and 59.
Younger women exhibit no danger as well and may even see a reduction in their risks. However, women over 60 or who went through menopause more than 10 years ago may have a slightly higher chance of having a heart attack.
Risk factors for a heart attack in women
Some classic risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking, may be familiar to you. These influence everyone. Research has discovered that these risk factors do, however, have some sex-based variations that may put women at greater risk. Additionally, women and those who identify as AFAB suffer specific hazards that are particular to them.
Women are more likely to have numerous risk factors at once if they are more likely to have one or more of the risk factors in question. Because of the compounding effects of risk variables, this puts women in danger. In other words, your overall risk of acquiring heart disease increases the more risk factors you have.
Age: Heart attacks are more likely to occur in people who are 55 years or older. This may be due to the fact that hormones offer some protection against heart disease prior to menopause.
Depression and stress: Women are twice as likely as males to experience depressive symptoms when they are 60 years old or younger. Women are far more likely than men to experience depressive symptoms right after having a heart attack.
Psychosocial stress, or stress resulting from work, home, money issues, or significant life events, is more common among women.
Sleep apnea: Although sleep apnea is prevalent in both men and women, many people are unaware of how it influences the risk of cardiovascular disease. Without therapy, women with sleep apnea are more likely to develop high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, and atrial fibrillation, according to research. Reducing this risk is made possible by good sleep apnea treatment.
Family history: One is regarded to have a family history of heart attack and is at a higher risk if they have a male relative who had one by the age of 55 or a female relative who had one by the age of 65.
Lack of exercise: Exercise appears to lower risk in women even more than it does in males. However, only 1 in 4 American women exercise enough to get the rewards, and 1 in 4 don't exercise at all.
Health status: Heart attack risk increases in both sexes for certain markers including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
High blood pressure (hypertension): Women are more likely than men to suffer hypertension after the age of 60, but they are also less likely to have it managed. Hypertension is twice as likely to kill a woman as a man. Heart attacks and hypertension are more closely related in women than in men.
Medical conditions: Diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune illnesses are among the conditions that increase a person's risk of having a heart attack. Risk is also raised by conditions including endometriosis, PCOS, or a past history of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Autoimmune diseases: In the United States, women are diagnosed with autoimmune disorders including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis at a rate of nearly 80%, and that percentage is steadily rising. These conditions are influenced by stress, hormone changes, and pregnancy. A person's risk of heart attack, heart failure, and other cardiovascular issues is significantly increased by autoimmune illnesses.
Gestational diabetes: The chance of acquiring diabetes mellitus in the four months following delivery is doubled by this diagnosis. If their fasting glucose is at least 121 mg/dL when pregnant, the risk increases by 21 times. Additionally, gestational diabetes increases the chance of developing cardiovascular disease over time. Later cardiovascular disease is 67% more likely to occur in people with gestational diabetes than in those without it.
Lifestyle choices: The risk of heart attack is increased by smoking, using stimulant drugs like cocaine or amphetamines, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and experiencing high amounts of stress.
In many nations, heart disease is the top cause of mortality for women, and heart attacks play a significant role in this statistic. Women can, however, adopt a number of lifestyle adjustments to lower their risk of heart attacks.
Women have the ability to take action and lower their risk of developing heart disease. Many risk factors can be avoided or treated to reduce their impact. Additionally, it's crucial to keep in mind that transformation takes time.
Here are some of the most important ones:
Exercise regularly: Exercise has several advantages, including boosting circulation and heart health. It can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol while assisting you in maintaining a healthy weight. Your risk of heart disease can be decreased by all of these. Aim for at least 75 minutes of intense exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise for women per week.
Quit smoking: Heart disease is significantly increased by smoking. Women who smoke should stop doing so right away, and those who don't should stay away from secondhand smoke. Smoking cigarettes increases blood pressure and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Don't start smoking if you don't already. If you currently smoke, quitting will reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Your health care professional can offer advice on how to stop smoking in the most effective method for you.
Make sure that you get enough sleep: Lack of sleep increases your risk of developing diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Your risk of heart disease may increase if you do those three things. Adults typically require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure you have healthy sleeping patterns. Contact a medical professional if you frequently have sleep issues. People who have sleep apnea frequently have frequent brief breathing pauses during sleep. This makes it difficult for you to obtain a decent night's sleep and may increase your chance of developing heart disease. Ask your doctor about getting a sleep study if you suspect you might have it. And make sure you receive treatment if you do have sleep apnea.
Stay at a healthy weight: Your chance of developing heart disease can rise if you are obese or overweight. This is mostly due to their associations with other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels. Keeping your weight under control can reduce these dangers.
Manage stress: In many respects, stress and heart disease are related. It might cause a spike in blood pressure. A heart attack may be "triggered" by extreme stress. Additionally, unhealthy stress-relieving behaviours like binge eating, heavy drinking, and smoking are hazardous for your heart. Exercise, music, focusing on something serene or calming, and meditation are a few techniques to help you manage your stress.
Heart disease can occur as a result of stress. Women should learn stress management strategies, such as breathing exercises, physical activity, or counselling.
Control high blood pressure: A significant risk factor for heart disease is high blood pressure. Women should periodically check their blood pressure and take action to regulate it, whether it is with medication or a change in lifestyle. The majority of adults should get their blood pressure checked once a year or more frequently if they have high blood pressure. Take action to avoid or manage high blood pressure, including modifying your lifestyle.
Control high cholesterol: High cholesterol levels can narrow your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and coronary artery disease. You can lower your cholesterol by altering your lifestyle and taking medications if necessary. Another form of fat seen in the blood is called triglycerides. Additionally, particularly in women, high triglyceride levels may increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Another significant risk factor for heart disease is high cholesterol. Women should get their cholesterol levels examined frequently and, if necessary, start taking medication or altering their lifestyle to lower it.
By making these lifestyle changes, women can significantly reduce their risk of heart attacks and other forms of heart disease. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or starting a new exercise regimen.