Women have a unique place in the world. From running businesses to raising children, women are strong, capable, and passionate about what and whom they love. And while women are often portrayed as superheroes for all they accomplish, they are not immune to serious health threats, like heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US, striking down one out of every five women, especially African American and Caucasian women. Of course, just as with men, there are ways to lower your risk for heart disease. There is, however, a unique difference in the way heart disease affects the female population.
Myths and facts surrounding women and heart disease
We’re only just beginning to understand all of the unique and varied ways in which heart disease impacts women’s health. From symptoms to risk factors, cardiac disease presents and responds much differently in women than in men. There are a lot of misconceptions circulating regarding women and heart disease, and it’s essential to separate the facts from the myths. Knowing the truth could save your life, or the life of someone you love.
Myth: Heart disease is a man’s problem
While heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country, more women actually die from a cardiac event.
Myth: Breast cancer is a bigger threat to women than heart disease
Breast cancer claims a startling one in 31 women each year. While those numbers are significant, the American Heart Association estimates women die from heart disease at the rate of one per minute. Heart disease poses a much higher threat than breast cancer.
Myth: Heart disease only affects older women
Heart disease can strike at any age. Younger women who take birth control pills and smoke are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Women who are postmenopausal may experience a dramatic drop in the hormone estrogen, which can raise their risk for heart disease. Women of all ages who have unhealthy lifestyles, are overweight, sedentary, have a poor diet, smoke, drink to excess, or those who have no healthy way to manage their stress, should make changes if they want to avoid heart disease.
Myth: Heart disease isn’t a concern for women who work out regularly and are at a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular cardiovascular exercise does go a long way toward keeping your heart healthy, however, you can’t eliminate all the risks by working out. In order to ensure your heart health, it’s best to schedule regular check-ups and track your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Know your numbers, and keep them in check through diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.
Myth: Heart attacks don’t come without symptoms
Indeed, cardiovascular disease and an impending cardiac event do frequently present with symptoms, but 64% of women who die from sudden heart attacks voiced no previous symptoms. Women don’t always feel the “elephant on the chest” like men. There isn’t always pain preceding the event. When women do experience symptoms of a heart attack, they’re often:
- Shortness of breath
- Jaw pain
- Back pain, or shoulder pain
- Dizziness; a feeling of being lightheaded
- Extreme fatigue
- Pain in lower chest/upper abdomen
Myth: You can’t do anything about a family history of heart disease
Heart disease does run in families, however that doesn’t mean it’s your fate. Make lifestyle changes now, and do all you can to maintain your heart health. Conquer any bad habits, such as smoking, or drinking alcohol to excess. Get out and move. If you’re overweight, make the necessary changes to your diet, along with exercise. Heart disease is prevalent, and a very real threat to women, but you have the power to control many of the risk factors.
Start taking care of your heart today
A thorough check up at Medinet Family Care Clinic can help steer you away from the threat of heart disease. Dr. Bharat Gandhi and his caring staff offer clear and practical solutions to keep you on the road to good cardiac health. Take control of your heart health today. Contact Medinet Family Care Center, located in Houston, Texas, and together we’ll help you live your healthiest life.