Heart disease and stroke are currently the leading causes of death in women worldwide. In the US alone, it’s estimated that one in every five deaths among females is linked to heart disease. While you might be aware that it’s important to take care of your heart, especially after a certain age, you may not know that heart attack signs in women can differ from those in men.
According to a troubling new survey from the American Heart Association, general awareness about heart disease has gone down significantly from 2009 to 2019 among women. Their survey revealed that despite the number of women at risk of a cardiovascular event, awareness of heart disease as the leading cause of death for women decreased from 65 percent to 44 percent. More specifically, women showed to be less informed on the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke, the first action to take when someone is having a heart attack or stroke, and heart disease and stroke risk factors (like diet and lifestyle).
These results show that in order to protect from heart disease related deaths, more education on how heart attacks happen and what to look out for is needed.
Heart Attack Signs in Women
We typically hear that a heart attack may first present itself as chest pain or tightness in the chest area. We also often hear that a heart attack could be signaled by pain, tingling, or numbness in places like the arms, neck, and jaw.
These heart attack signs are certainly things to look out for whether you’re a man or a woman. However, women may also experience other symptoms of a heart attack that aren’t common in men.
According to the Heart Foundation, additional heart attack symptoms that women should look out for include:
- sudden dizziness
- heart-burn like feeling in the chest
- nausea or vomiting
- unusual tiredness
- cold sweat
If you suddenly start experiencing any of the symptoms above, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to talk about your options. “The earlier the better” is a philosophy to follow when it comes to catching signs of a cardiovascular event. You can never be too careful or cautious in paying attention to any changes that are happening in your body, and seeking medical attention.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Researchers from the AHA study assert that we need to increase awareness of the risk factors for heart disease among women to better protect our health. Some of those risk factors include,
- high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- sedentary lifestyle
- genetic history
- autoimmune conditions
- rheumatoid arthritis
Luckily, there are an abundance of things that women can do to prevent heart disease and cardiovascular events like heart attacks and stroke. Experts over at Heart.org say women can improve their heart health by knowing their risk of heart disease (including staying in contact with your healthcare providers about your risk factors), eating a heart healthy diet, being physically active (bonus points for cardio exercise!), watching your weight, quitting smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation.
All in all, prevention and education are the best ways to keep our hearts in good shape so we can live long and healthy lives. For more guidance, check out our guide on how to prevent a heart attack here!