Your favorite song is playing; you’re dancing and making coffee. Your daughter Ellie meets you in the kitchen. You noticed your back pain hurts more today than yesterday, and now you’re short of breath.
Women can confuse late signs of heart disease with everyday experiences. Late symptoms of heart disease can be in the form of extreme fatigue or back pain. If your back pain hurts a little more than usual and you feel more tired than usual–it’s time to seek medical help. You may be experiencing a heart attack.
It is not a myth that women experience heart disease more than men. It’s a fact heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Heart disease can happen at any age. Knowing the early signs of heart disease can help prevent a heart attack from striking. Early prevention is critical for heart health. In 2020, heart disease was the cause of over 300,000 female deaths.
Facts About Heart Disease In Women
Educating women about heart disease and stroke can promote awareness. Knowing the facts will help women in the United States take control of their heart health. Pregnancy and menopause can increase a woman’s chance of experiencing heart disease.
Let’s discuss other factors that impact a woman’s chances of heart disease.
“About 45% of females 20 years and older live with some form of heart disease.”
“Black women have some of the highest maternal mortality rates.”
“An estimated 4.1 million female stroke survivors live today.”
“Approximately 57.5% of stroke deaths are in women.”
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease can occur when there is a heart blockage, which can cause a heart attack. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is the number one killer of heart disease in women. The buildup of plaque in arteries causes CAD.
Heart disease can be tricky. A heart attack may not reveal that you have heart disease until you experience the symptoms. Heart disease is also known as a “silent disease.”
What Causes Heart Disease in Women?
Several heart-related conditions in women, such as the following, can cause heart disease:
Coronary artery disease- is plaque buildup in the arteries.
Heart failure- occurs when the heart cannot pump blood throughout the body.
Irregular heartbeat- the heart rate and heart rhythm are beating too fast. A regular rhythm is between 60-100 beats per minute.
Broken heart syndrome- symptoms can occur to extreme stress, anger, grief, or surprise.
Stable angina- occurs during physical activity but goes away at rest. Most common in women.
Signs And Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women?
Some women don’t experience symptoms of heart disease; please be aware of the warning signs and seek medical attention immediately. Women don’t always encounter chest pain like men, and knowing what to look for is vital.
Some common signs and symptoms of heart disease in women include the following:
Pain in the back, neck, or throat
Shortness of breath
What Are the Major Risk Factors For Heart Disease in Women
The primary risk factor for heart disease is high blood pressure (hypertension). Controlling your blood pressure is so important; who knew? The CDC reports, “more than 56 million women in the United States (44.3%) have high blood pressure, defined as 130/80 mm hg or higher or taking blood pressure medicine.” Take preventative steps for heart disease by understanding the risk factors as a woman.
Other factors that can increase heart disease in women are the following:
Excessive alcohol consumption
Stress and depression
Diabetes during pregnancy
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
What To Do if Experiencing A Heart Attack
Immediately call 911 if you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. Do not take yourself to the hospital; have medical transport take you. Time is crucial for treatment.
How To Prevent Heart Disease in Women
First, talk with your doctor and learn how you can manage it. Educating yourself will promote a healthier you. Managing other health conditions, quitting smoking, and following up with regular check-ups are some tips that can help prevent heart disease.
Some other examples are the following:
Limit alcohol intake
Manage your diabetes
Know when to call 911
Reduce cholesterol levels
Stay active- walking 30 minutes a day is a great way to start
Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains
Key Takeaways In Managing Heart Disease In Women
Heart disease occurs more in women than men. It’s not uncommon to miss the signs and symptoms of heart disease. Be aware of back, neck, or throat pain and shortness of breath. The most common cause of heart disease in women is coronary artery disease. CAD is also known as plaque buildup in the arteries.
The primary risk factor of heart disease in women is high blood pressure. Talking with your doctor and taking steps to prevent heart disease is vital. A healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet can help prevent heart disease. Know your symptoms because heart disease is silent.