Many people think women don’t get heart disease. But the facts tell the truth… heart disease is the number one killer of women, and any women is susceptible. According to the American Heart Association, “Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year – more than all cancers combined.”1
When you think about heart disease, you probably think about chest pain. Although men and women share some common symptoms, including chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness, there are additional signs of heart disease specifically for women.
What are the signs of heart disease in women?
The most important sign is feeling really tired – even after enough sleep. Other signs are:
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Pain in jaw, neck, arms, upper back, or upper abdomen
- Trouble breathing
Doctors recommend that, even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 911. Emergency medical services personnel can begin treatment when they arrive – up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. If you don’t have access to an ambulance, have someone drive you to the hospital right away. If you are the one having symptoms, don’t drive yourself unless you have absolutely no other option.
What can women do to prevent becoming a statistic? Although there are things you cannot change: family history, age, and gender; you can modify your lifestyle to be more heart healthy.
Lower your risk of heart disease
- Don’t smoke
- Get your blood pressure checked often
- Control your diabetes
- Lower your cholesterol
- Eat healthy
- Stay active and maintain a healthy weight
- Find effective, healthy ways to manage stress like exercise, meditation, or yoga
Knowing your numbers is a big part of keeping your heart healthy. They can help you and your doctor determine risks and mark the progress you’re making toward a healthier heart. Ask your doctor about total cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and body mass index.
For more information on heart health, visit heart.org.
1American Heart Association. (February 22 2021). About Heart Disease in Women. Go Red for Women. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women