Heart Disease in Women
Heart Disease: Not Just a Men’s Issue
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in five female deaths in 2020 was attributed to heart disease. Even though heart health awareness has improved throughout the nation, only 56% of women realize that heart disease is not just a men’s issue. Heart disease in women is more common than most women may think.
Types of Heart Disease in Women
The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can happen in men as well as women. However, there are certain types of heart disease that affect women more often than men. According to MedlinePlus, the following types of heart disease are most common in women.
- Coronary microvascular disease – This form of heart disease affects the smallest arteries of the heart and increases the risk of a heart attack. This can include chest pain from spasms (sudden tightening) in the smallest arteries of the heart that pinch off blood flow during rest or routine activities. This type of heart disease is harder to diagnose since blockages in smaller arteries can be harder to see on imaging tests.
- Broken heart syndrome – Strong chest pain or other signs that look like a heart attack that can be brought on by stress and other deeply-felt emotions such as grief, anger, or surprise. This can happen even if you’re healthy and mostly affects women after menopause.
- Variant angina – A rare type of strong chest pain from spasms in the heart arteries. The pain usually happens in a pattern during sleep and rarely causes a heart attack.
Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
Women exhibit a broader range of heart attack symptoms than men do. These can often be mistaken for common illnesses, such as heartburn or nausea. Women can experience the typical chest pain and discomfort, but they also frequently exhibit the following symptoms when having a heart attack:
- Jaw or back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
It is important for women not to ignore these symptoms and call 911 or get to the hospital immediately.
Take Charge of Your Health
Taking charge of your health can help reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. It’s important to get annual health check-ups. Other ways you can be heart healthy are:
- Limit consumption of red meat and processed foods.
- Get regular aerobic exercise.
- Get quality sleep.
- Keep an eye on your waist.
- Manage stress and depression.
If you or a loved one are having heart problems, contact CCMH’s Heart and Vascular Center at 580-250-4278. CCMH is proud to provide the largest and most comprehensive heart program in Southwest Oklahoma where you can receive advanced cardiac procedures as well as treatment for heart conditions. Learn more about CCMH’s Heart and Vascular Center here: https://www.ccmhhealth.com/heart-and-vascular/the-heart-center/
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