August 10, 2022

Signs of poor heart health often go unnoticed in women: Symptoms one must never ignore – Times of India


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Heart attack is a general cardiovascular disease that affects millions of people and claims several lives every year across the globe. While men and women are equally prone to heart attack, the aftereffect of the disease is said to be more severe for women as compared to men due to biological differences. Additionally, the symptoms of a heart attack in women are not like those witnessed among men, in fact, they are quite unusual, which make it more difficult to detect the signs early and take medical help to reduce the risk of fatality.
Read more: Post-COVID syndrome: Heart attack, blood clotting and depression on the rise in recovering patients
Women’s hearts are usually smaller than men and so are the interior chambers. Even the walls of the heart are thinners. So naturally, they pump out 10 per cent less blood each time as compared to men’s hearts. On top of that when women are stressed, their pulse rate rises and their heart pumps more blood. Contrarily, when men are stressed, the arteries of their heart constrict which increases blood pressure. The structure of the heart along with other biological factors make it more difficult to detect a heart attack in women and recover afterwards. Here are some reasons why women need to take extra care of their heart health.

Read more: Warning signs your heart is suffering
Certain diseases only affect women, increasing their chances of developing additional diseases including cardiovascular issues. Health conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovary disease, diabetes and high blood pressure that develop during pregnancy, can increase their chances of a heart attack. Furthermore, they also suffer from problems like high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity, just like men. So, their risk of suffering from heart attack is greater than men.

Read more: Heart attack: Lifestyle changes to make to reduce the risk of heart attack
The most common sign of a heart attack is angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. That’s what we have learnt by watching movies, right? However, women might not feel pain in the chest when they are having a heart attack. They may experience some different symptoms that can be easily confused with other conditions, leading to delay in the treatment. This in turn increases the risk of fatality among them. Some women may have chest pain weeks before a heart attack, but they are more subtle and often go unnoticed.

Women suffer from a heart attack at an older age as compared to men. That’s because estrogen protects women from heart diseases until after menopause. When the level of estrogen drops after this phase by around the 60s, they develop cardiovascular problems. However, by the time they reach this age mark, they also develop other conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure. These factors make it more difficult for them to cope up with a heart attack.

Women do not always feel the same classic heart attack symptoms as men. To prevent yourself it is essential to know about the typical signs of a heart attack witnessed in women. Here are the 5 most important ones.

Squeezing of a heart: Women may feel a squeezing or fullness in their heart, rather than a pain. This could make them feel uncomfortable.
Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw: Pain in any or both of the limbs, neck, jaws and back are more common signs of a heart attack in women as compared to chest pain.
Stomach pain: Severe abdominal pressure that feels like an elephant sitting on your stomach is another common sign in women. This often goes unnoticed as heartburn, the flu, or stomach ulcer symptoms.
Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness: Having trouble breathing for no reason, feeling nauseated or breaking out in cold sweat is common among women. It feels like symptoms of stress but can be a heart attack.
Fatigue: Some women who have a heart attack feel extremely tired even when they are sitting or not moving enough. These signs of unexplained fatigue should not be ignored.
Both men and women need to take care of their hearts. Eating right, exercising, managing your stress level, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking and alcohol are some of the ways to enjoy a healthy and long life.

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