Symptoms and Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women

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Heart disease is one of the most prolific killers of women in the United States. In fact, according to the NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this problem is the cause of death for one out of every four women.

Heart disease affects more women than men because women are more susceptible for certain types of cardiac conditions. While both men and women can suffer from a narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, women are also at higher risk of suffering from Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD), which is a problem that affects the heart's tiny arteries, and "broken heart syndrome," in which extreme emotional stress leads to a severe, short-term heart muscle failure.

As with all health conditions, having an understanding of the symptoms and risk factors is essential to getting the help you need when you need it. Here are the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for heart disease in women.

Signs of Heart Disease in Women

Heart disease is not always easy to diagnose, and this is especially the case in women. The reason is because many women suffer from "silent" coronary heart disease. In most cases, heart disease isn't diagnosed until a woman suffers a heart attack, an arrhythmia, or heart failure. Therefore, knowing the symptoms of these conditions is key to getting immediate help.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain. But, not all women experience chest pain when they're having a heart attack. In fact, only about half of all women heart attack victims report having chest pains. More commonly, women experience:

  • Pain in the back or neck area
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort in both arms (not just the left!)
  • Discomfort in the jaw

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

When the heart is experiencing an arrhythmia, it can be beating too fast, too slow, or irregularly. The result is a fluttering or thumping feeling in the chest. The sufferer may also actually feel the beats being skipped.

The danger with arrhythmias is that they can cause the heart to suddenly stop beating. This is called sudden cardiac arrest and it can be deadly if treatment is not administered immediately.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Heart failure is not the same thing as cardiac arrest. When a woman is suffering from heart failure, her heart is not pumping enough blood through her body to meet its needs. The result is an increase in fatigue and a shortness of breath. Other signs of heart failure in women include swollen feet, legs, ankles, and abdomen. In some cases, the veins in the neck can also appear swollen.

Signs of Broken Heart Syndrome

Women who are suffering from broken heart syndrome typically experience chest pain and shortness of breath. The symptoms come on suddenly after a physically or emotionally stressful event and in some cases; they can lead to cardiogenic shock.

Top Heart Disease Risk Factors for Women

Health and lifestyle play important roles in one's risk for developing heart disease. The risk factors that are most common in women include:

  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Low levels of estrogen
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

How Women Can Prevent Heart Disease

Age plays a large role in heart disease, so as a woman ages, she naturally becomes higher at risk of suffering from it. But, there are some things women can do to help reduce their heart disease risks, including:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Stop or avoid smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep blood pressure under control
  • Keep cholesterol and triglycerides under control
  • Get tested for diabetes and keep it under control if you already have it

Enjoy Prolonged Health at Savannah Skilled Nursing Facilities

At The Marshes of Skidaway Island, our Savannah skilled nursing facilities make it easy to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. We center our services on a health-promoting support system. We serve fresh, healthy meals so our residents get the nutrition they need every day. We offer state-of-the-art exercise facilities and group exercise programs so our members get the exercise they need to maintain their health. We also offer a host of socially engaging activities and health and wellness seminars and programs.

Every facet of our Savannah skilled nursing facilities is designed with your health and happiness in mind. To learn more about The Marshes of Skidaway Island or to schedule a visit to our luxurious resort-like campus, please call us today at 800-889-6238.