Heart disease is a broad term pertaining to several heart conditions, the most common of which is coronary artery disease. The blood flow to the heart is affected in coronary artery disease and can cause a heart attack. Even with a heart attack, symptoms can still be overlooked even though most people are familiar with the disease.
According to Dr. Daniel Snavely, an interventional cardiologist with St. Mary’s Medical Center and HIMG, the most common thing is that women do not have typical symptoms such as frank chest pains. Chest pain or a heavy feeling on the chest is a symptom often associated with a heart attack however women sometimes present differently. The elderly and those who have diabetes also present differently.
Women often experience shortness of breath, back pain, arm pain and extreme fatigue. According to Dr. Melissa Lester, a cardiologist and assistant professor at Marsha University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, she has had women patients who were having a heart attack on the cath lab table and the only complaint they give was something does not feel right.
Any change in a person’s baseline is important. For example, if the person used to be able t carry a bag of groceries up two flights of steps but all of a sudden that person cannot make it up one flight, that is a change of baseline. According to Katherine Cunningham, a cardiac nurse at Cabell Huntington Hospital, it is important if the person is experiencing ongoing symptoms for more than 20 minutes to call 911, very bad outcomes can result for ignoring these symptoms as reported by herald-dispatch.com
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease which includes heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke kills nearly half a million women in the United States each year. This figure exceeds the next seven causes of death combined. More women die of coronary artery disease than all forms of cancers, respiratory conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and accidents combined.
Women are also 15 percent more likely than men to die of a heart attack and twice as likely to have a second heart attack in the six years following the first attack. The overall death rate from heart disease in the U.S. has dropped by 30 percent since 1998 but the rates among women under 55 years old are still rising with women who are under 50 who have a heart attack twice as likely to die than men, 42 percent of women who have heart attacks die within a year compared to 24 percent in men.
Researchers say that to lower the risks of heart attacks women should consume at least five daily servings of fruit and vegetable, limit consumption of fatty and fried foods, eat lean, low-fat protein and chose whole grain foods. Exercise is also important, do at least 20-30 minute of moderate intensity exercise five days a week. The exercise should be strenuous enough to make you break a sweat and increase your heart rate but light enough to that you can carry a conversation. Look for ways to lower stress levels like relaxation techniques, swimming, yoga and other activities as reported by newsmax.