Heart disease is not a ‘man’s disease’.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
One in thirty-one US women die from cancer each year. One in three die from a heart attack annually.
Protect yourself by knowing your risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, smoking, menstruation has stopped, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, and family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60.
According to Dr. Larry Weinrauch, very few pre-menopausal women have heart attacks, unless they smoke, have diabetes, or are on birth control pills for a long period of time. Smoking seems to be the biggest risk factor.
Heart disease symptoms can be different for women than men, which can lead to misdiagnosis and/or delayed treatment.
Heart attack warning signs for women:
- Chest discomfort that starts behind the breast bone and radiates to either shoulder or arm, neck, or to the lower (but not upper) jaw
- Nausea and vomiting that won’t stop
- Shortness of breath, especially if it wakes you up at night
- Discomfort in the lower jaw especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away
- Upper back pain/discomfort, especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away
- Chest or back pain/discomfort that occurs when doing usual chores after a large meal
- Sudden onset of weakness that won’t go away
- Sudden racing heart sensation with a very fast pulse
- Generalized or extreme fatigue
- Pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Physical inability to perform typical daily activities
- A senses of impending doom
If you have the above symptoms, immediately call 911.
Not all symptoms occur with every heart attack. You might experience just one or two. Pay particular attention if a symptom has sudden onset. Symptoms may go away and return, particularly with exertion.
Flu-like symptoms are often reported weeks or days before a woman has a heart attack. If something just doesn’t "feel right", trust your instincts and contact your doctor.
High cholesterol is one risk factor for heart disease. For guidance on steps you can take to lower cholesterol pressure levels and reduce heart attack risk, access the free e-course "How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps" at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.