Heart Disease: What Every Woman Should Know

women heart menopauseThe number one cause of death in American women, strokes and heart attacks claim the lives of more than 400,000 women every year in the US alone, with even more across the globe suffering from these fatal heart conditions. Heart disease-related deaths are declining in men, but women are seeing a rise in numbers as they are more likely to be underdiagnosed or have their symptoms mistreated. Here are the top four facts that every woman should know about heart disease.

You don’t always know you’re having a heart attack

In both sexes, the symptoms of a heart attack are the same – intense chest pain, nausea, dizziness and a radiating pain that spreads to the shoulders and arms. However, women may also find that they experience additional symptoms such as flu-like symptoms, fatigue and a shortness of breath. The majority of women don’t attribute these symptoms with a cardiac arrest, but it is important to be aware of what a heart attack may feel like so as to spot it early if one occurs.

You’ll have them later in life than men.

Women tend to have heart attacks, on average, around the age of 70, whereas men have theirs at 66. Post-menopausal women are more likely to suffer from heart problems, past the age of 55, as the cardio-protective oestrogen levels drop. This hormone decline also causes your body to have less control of the bad LDL cholesterol, which can be damaging to your heart.

Health events during pregnancy can be risk factors later in life.

Pregnancy brings with it many medical risks, such as preeclampsia and high blood pressure, which can cause effects that stick around long after labour. Preeclampsia, for example, increases your risk of developing heart disease in middle age.

The risk factors are the same for everyone.

Your lifestyle plays a big part in your risk of developing heart disease, such as your diet, physical activity and smoking. You should check with your GP if you’re unsure if you’re weight or medical history puts you at a higher risk.

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