The American Heart Association (AHA) has made it clear with their Go Red For Women campaign that heart disease is not just an “old man’s disease.” In fact, it is the number one killer of adults for both sexes.
Each minute one woman dies from heart disease, meaning somebody’s mother, daughter, or sister. While in men heart disease deaths have fallen tremendously over the past 25 years, in women it is a different story.
However, some of the symptoms are different in women than in men. Both sexes can experience the common symptoms of a heart attack—examples of these include strong chest pain and a cold sweat.
In women symptoms of a heart attack are often times subtler. Something simple such as an upset stomach can be a symptom of a heart attack. Other symptoms include jaw pain, a shortness of breath, and nausea. Because of this many times women will ignore these symptoms or suspect something else is the problem other than the heart.
The diagnosis of figuring out when a woman has a health problem often times comes late; health care professionals even fall victim to missing signs and misdiagnosis.
Here are some simple facts backed by the AHA on the difference in heart disease between women and men:
- Women who are 45 or younger die more frequently than men after having their first heart attack.
- Barely over half of the women first thought of calling 9-1-1 when they had a heart attack.
- Men receive implantable defibrillators three times as much as women.
- Studies on heart problems often times leave women out; only 38% of the subjects have been women.
- Researchers often times do not focus on gender-specific studies for cardiovascular disease.
When looking at these statistics, one journal came up with a conclusion. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that the right side of the heart is different in women than in men. This would be a reason why heart disease differs between the sexes.
Steven Kawut, an author of the study explained this difference. “The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, so all types of lung diseases can affect the right side of the heart,” Kawut said.
Blood vessel walls are damaged more frequently in women. In addition, hormones can play a role in women’s heart problems and not all of these effects are currently known.
Even though heart disease is different for women than men there are still things all women can do regardless of their age. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important. In addition, eating a heart-healthy diet is beneficial and getting all of the essential nutrients. Reducing the amount of stress in your life by finding a balance and making sure to get enough “me” time is vital to heart health as well. Aside from this, getting regular check-ups is important.