Health & Wellness

Key ways that women can prevent heart disease

Many people perceive heart disease as a more common problem for men. However, it is also the usual cause of death for women too. As observed, women's heart disease symptoms may differ from those found in men. Consequently, if you are a woman, you may not know what is happening with your body. A woman’s risk of being exposed to a serious heart disease is eight times higher than that of dying from breast cancer.

Why are women's heart attack symptoms different?

Apparently, a heart attack happens when your artery gets blocked by your cholesterol, and that damages the heart muscle. In women, this cholesterol travels throughout the blood vessels, whereas in men, it only blocks the artery. Both situations lead to damage, but with different symptoms, causing a heart attack.

Symptoms: What causes a heart attack in women?

For both men and women, the most common symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain, discomfort, and high blood pressure. In women, chest pain is dubious as it is rarely noticeable or cannot be termed as the main symptom of their heart illness. Apparently, tightness or pressure is commonly described by struggling females. That means it is possible for women to have a heart attack without any pain in the chest. 

Unrelated to chest pain, other signs of heart attack in women are more likely to be observed. The symptoms might last for a few moments and go away. Generally, the symptoms occur during sleep or when the body is at rest. The unrelated symptoms include:

  • Discomfort in the upper back, neck, shoulders, and jaw
  • Loss of breath
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Arm pain (one or both)
  • Heartburn

The above female heart attack symptoms may look minor and might be ignored by women in the first place, but these are serious signs indicating your bad heart health. These symptoms are present as women face blockages in the main and small arteries. These small arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the heart, and blockage here leads to coronary microvascular disease, or small vessel heart disease. Besides, emotional stress could be a major reason for  activating the symptoms in females.

How to reduce the risk:

There are several health conditions that increase the risk of heart disease in women. Many females don’t realise the unique risk factors, so it becomes even more challenging with non-typical health signs. With increasing age, the risk factor increases, and it can commonly be observed after menopause.

You can positively reduce the risk by making certain health changes to your daily lifestyle. Some of the most important factors in preventing heart disease in women are:

  1. Understanding the risk factor: For prevention, it becomes intrinsic to understand the risk and maintain stability. Consequently, it applies to heart disease. As an estimate, nine out of ten females live with some type of heart disease risk factor. Whether it is the high blood pressure or cholesterol level or obesity, each condition is connected with heart disease. Identifying your health condition level at different phases of your life and maintaining the balance helps in keeping you away from the chronic affliction. 
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight: There is no doubt that overweight people develop certain health conditions that result in heart illness. That means your excess weight itself hurts the organ muscles. If you are struggling with obesity, you are more likely to suffer  from any of the other heart disease risk conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, which raise the chances of heart failure. You can think of  your heavy weight as a silent contributor to your heart risk. Consequently, maintaining a balanced height-weight ratio keeps you less prone to the disease. 
  3. Consume heart-healthy food: A change in your eating habits immensely influences your heart life as different nutrient components have different impacts on your body. For instance, vitamin K, present in green leafy vegetables, helps in maintaining blood pressure and improving your arterial functions. Likewise, studies show that tomatoes lower the risk of stroke due to the lycopene present in them. Similarly, whole grains, berries, almonds, and seeds have efficient components that reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your heart healthy.
  4. Manage your stress: Struggling with heart disease is not just about physical pain, but also psychological trauma. Constant stress certainly impacts the overall heart's well-being. Anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia are some of the causes of the chronic stress that takes on your physical and mental health. The most effective way to promote your heart's health from stress is to have adequate sleep. Besides, it is advised to avoid sleeping pills that may have a negative effect on your body in the long run.
  5. Continue with your treatment plan: In particular, there are different heart diseases found in females, caused by the chronic illnesses suffered by them; blood pressure, cholesterol etc. Consequently, to reduce the heart disease risk from these prolonged illnesses, it is integral to stick to your treatment plan and keep your body level under control. Have a regular check with your medical advisor and follow the treatment as prescribed.
  6. Special care during pregnancy: Pregnancy is an imperative phase for every female as the period is emotionally connected to them and their families. During the 9-month tenure, women undergo the most sensitive time and are taken care of the most. Consequently, if a woman develops high blood pressure or diabetes during her pregnancy, it increases her risk of heart disease in the mother.
  7. Recognise your symptoms: As mentioned above, heart disease symptoms in women are more general than just chest pain. Hence, it becomes a challenge to identify if it is a sign of a heart attack, flu, or other illness. A comprehensive health check will help you  examine your health condition and detect the ailment in the first place.

Related Read: 6 Ways to protect your kidney health

KR4ALL supports women against heart disease:

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