Attention Women: When It Comes to Your Health, Follow Your Heart!

Did you know?

  • Cardiovascular disease is the Number 1 killer of women over the age of 25 in the United States, regardless of race or ethnicity.
  • Most people think breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women. But cardiovascular disease claims the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined.
  • 1 in 3 American women dies from heart disease.
  • Since 1984, the number of female deaths from cardiovascular disease has exceeded that of males and it continues to increase.
  • 1 in 4 women has some form of cardiovascular disease. Today inAmerica, there are 8,000,000 women living with heart disease.
  • 64 percent of women who die suddenly because of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.

Women are the decision makers when it comes to health issues in the home. While we are busy thinking of others, it is important to think about ourselves, too, and to know the facts about heart health.

Studies have shown that women’s symptoms are not usually identified as being related to heart disease. They are often associated with anxiety or other health issues. This is why it is important to be proactive, to know your body and to do your best to live a heart-healthy life.

Another key is to know your family’s history. But even if you don’t have a history of heart disease, you could still be at risk. Pay attention to any unusual symptoms.

Heart attack symptoms

While chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women, women also report different symptoms from men such as atypical chest pain or shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, cold sweat and dizziness.

And 78 percent of women reported at least one symptom for more than one month before their heart attack.  In one study of more than 500 women who had an acute heart attack, the most frequently reported symptoms were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. Just 30 percent reported chest discomfort, which was described as an aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning, fullness or tingling.

One Patient’s Experience

In a recent Cleveland Clinic web chat, a female patient relayed a story to cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD, about going to the ER with shortness of breath and chest pains. She was sent home after a “fairly normal” EKG, but thankfully went back to the ER where they tested her blood to find she was on the verge of a heart attack.

She told Dr. Cho: “I think that we need to really be assertive and know [our bodies] and make sure that they test you when you have chest pain—I could have stayed home the second time but felt like something was wrong and I was persistent.”

Says Dr. Cho, “Good for her for being proactive. Yes—women do sometimes have unusual symptoms. That is the reason why educational efforts are being made for patients as well as physicians to look for atypical symptoms in women.”

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