Heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, more women than men die of heart disease every year. Symptoms in women can be different from symptoms in men. Fortunately, women can take steps to understand their unique symptoms of heart disease and to begin to reduce their risk of heart disease.
The most common symptom of heart attack in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. Women are more likely than men to have atypical heart attack symptoms which are unrelated to chest pain, such as:
These symptoms are more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks especially in men. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart — a condition called small vessel heart disease or microvascular disease.
Many women tend to show up in emergency rooms after much heart damage has already occurred because their symptoms are not those typically associated with a heart attack. If you experience these symptoms or think you're having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help immediately. Don't drive yourself to the emergency room unless you have no other options.
It is important to remember in Indian context that women often take the back seat when it comes to getting themselves treated. This is also another reason for late presentation in Indian women.
Although the traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease — such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity — affect women and men, other factors may play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women. For example:
No. Women under the age of 65 who have a family history of heart disease should pay particularly close attention to the heart disease risk factors. Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously.
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease:
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You'll also need to take prescribed medications appropriately, such as blood pressure medications, blood thinners and aspirin. And you'll need to better manage other conditions that are risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Some women at high risk of heart disease may also benefit from the use of supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
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