Heart Health In Women

For many years, heart disease was thought to be mainly a problem in the male world. Most research done on heart disease until about 20 or 30 years ago was only done on male patients.

Researchers then took that information and generalized it to include women as well. Only in the last two or three decades have we begun to look at heart disease specifically in women. And in just that short time we’ve found that the sexes vary a great deal when it comes to heart health.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It has a much higher death rate than breast cancer – in fact it is five times higher. Yet for many women the heart is a rather neglected organ.

And 49% of all deaths from heart disease are in women. That means that about half of all heart problems occur in the female population – a much larger number than most people would predict. Stroke is the number 3 killer in women and it’s closely related to heart health. It’s imperative that you make sure you take care of your heart.

What’s even more interesting is that women have different symptoms from heart disease than men do. The signs are often more subtle and can actually seem like another illness altogether.

Pay attention to symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, pain or tightness in the chest, neck, and jaw, and flu-like symptoms of nausea and sweats. These are often signs of heart disease in women. If you experience them, you need to see a medical professional right away.

Another difference between men and women when it comes to heart disease is hormonal changes. For women, menopause brings on an increase in risk factors for heart disease. The hormones that are present during the menstrual cycle offer a protective factor when it comes to heart disease.

At this time scientists aren’t sure of the exact mechanism that offers this help. But after menopause, it’s even more critical for women to make sure they get routine screenings and practice healthy habits.

As a woman, you’re no less at risk for having heart disease than a man. However, women are less likely to take care of themselves than they are to take care of other people.

It’s important that you make your health a priority in your life. Get regular well woman exams with your doctor and practice healthy habits to reduce your risk of heart disease as much as possible.



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