Heart disease is one of the most prevalent heart condition that affects both genders, but there are certain heart conditions that affect only women and have different symptoms. For women, what are the signs to look for and what can they do to manage and be preventative.
Many believe that during a heart attack one experiences severe chest pain, however, this may not be the case for all. Women usually have less obvious signs like shortness of breath, pain in the back, upper belly and jaw. Some may also feel light-headed, dizzy or nauseous.
Broken Heart Syndrome
The official term for this condition is stress-induced cardiomyopathy, and it’s more likely to happen to women as compared to men. It’s caused by an abrupt release of stress hormones, and it happens after very emotional events like divorce or a death in your family. A part of your heart gets bigger and can’t pump blood properly. This can cause intense chest pain, but with quick treatment, this can lead to a full recovery.
This condition is called the spontaneous coronary artery dissection which occurs when one of the blood vessels of the heart tears. This can lead to a block or slowing down of the blood flow causing intense pain the chest along with many other symptoms. SCAD is a serious heart condition that requires immediate treatment. This happens more in women who have recently given birth.
Menopause doesn’t cause heart disease, but the body changes a woman experiences may make her more likely to develop the condition. As the levels of estrogen in the body decrease, arteries become stiffer. After menopause, the belly fat, blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels increase so it is suggested to stay active to keep the heart healthy.
If you have a condition like lupus or arthritis that cause inflammation, then you have more risk to develop a heart disease. By managing inflammation and avoiding steroids, this can help prevent developing heart disease. It is suggested to consult with your doctor for the best way to protect your heart.
Your chances of developing heart disease is greater if you have diabetes. The sugar in the blood slows down the flow of oxygen and this can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Women who have diabetes are generally over weight with high cholesterol and blood pressure. Try to keep your sugar levels and weight under control with proper diet and exercise.
Suffering from depression can also increase your chances of having heart disease. It can cause you to stay inactive and neglect your health. The continuous stress and anxiety can have a bad impact on the heart. Talk to your doctor if you think you need help managing depression.
Being Thin Does Not Guarantee a Healthy Heart
Yes, women who are overweight are more likely to have a heart condition but being thin doesn’t eliminate you from the risks for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Steps for Prevention:
Check Your Family Tree
If women in your immediate family, like your sister or mother, have had a heart condition before the age of 65 or if they’ve had a stroke, you may have a greater chance to have heart disease. It Is best to let your doctor know your family history so they can help you lower your chances.
Smoking can also increase the odds of the condition as well as your chances of a stroke by 25%. Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases blood pressure, which can lead to blood clots.
Watch Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol can build up in the arteries causing plaque to build up and harden and clog the arteries. By taking a routine blood test, you can be aware of your cholesterol levels. If your bad cholesterol levels are high, try making small changes like reducing sugar and fat intake while increasing more frequent exercise.
Manage a Healthy Weight
Eat fresh foods that are low in calories, fats and sodium. Take heart healthy cooking classes or watch online videos. Find activities that are fun and active, like going for a walk with a friend or taking a Zumba class.
Fitness Matters More After 40
Making small changes to your daily routine can significantly help. Even if you have never worked out, take the necessary steps to maintain your fitness after you hit your 40s. You can cut your chances of heart conditions by engaging in regular exercise.
Pregnancy Heart Protection
During pregnancy, the heart pumps more blood than usual. This can lead to excessive stress on the arteries and heart. Women who already experience valve issues should look out for signs like a fast heart rate, shortness of breath and infections during pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure be careful as it can lead to a condition called preeclampsia that can be of threat to both the mother and the baby.