Many people think that heart disease is mainly a problem for men, but that’s not true. Heart disease is actually the top cause of death for both men and women all around the world. But whether you’re a man or a woman can make a big difference in how heart disease develops, shows up, and gets treated. Taking care of women’s heart health is very important. It’s crucial to know the things that make women more likely to have heart problems, the signs of those problems, and how to treat them.
Special Risks for Women
Men and women share some common things that can raise the chance of getting heart disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. But women have some special risks too:
- Hormonal Changes: Women’s hormones, like estrogen, can help protect the heart. But after menopause, when a woman’s period stops, her estrogen levels go down, and that can make heart disease more likely.
- Problems During Pregnancy: Some issues during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, can be warnings that heart problems might come later. Women who have these problems when they’re pregnant should be extra careful about their heart health after they have their baby.
- Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are more common in women and can make heart disease more likely because they cause inflammation and problems with the immune system.
- Mental Health: Depression and long-lasting stress, which are more common in women, can lead to heart disease by affecting how people live, like what they eat and how much they move, and by making inflammation worse.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormone problem that affects many women. It can make the risk of heart disease go up because it’s linked to insulin resistance and obesity, both of which can lead to heart problems.
- Not Enough Calcium: Women who don’t get enough calcium can end up with weaker heart muscles and other health issues, especially after they turn 40. Checking calcium levels after 40 is important.
Even though women don’t get heart disease as often as men do, when they do get it, it can be harder to treat. This is true for both heart artery disease and valve problems. So, finding it early is really important.
Common Signs of Heart Disease in Women
Knowing the signs of heart disease can help catch it early and get treatment. Both men and women can have chest pain, but women might have different or less obvious signs. That’s why it’s important for women to know the signs of heart problems:
- Chest Discomfort: Women can have chest pain, but it might feel more like pressure or squeezing. It can also spread to the back, neck, jaw, or shoulders.
- Breathing Problems: If you’re out of breath even when you’re not doing much, it could be a sign of heart disease.
- Feeling Sick: Women might feel like throwing up or actually vomit, which can be confused with stomach problems when they’re having a heart attack.
- Extreme Tiredness: If you’re super tired all the time, especially with other symptoms like trouble breathing, it’s a sign you should take seriously.
- Dizziness and Fainting: Feeling dizzy or passing out can be a sign of heart problems in women.
- Pain in the Neck, Jaw, Back, or Shoulder: Feeling pain in these areas can sometimes be a sign of heart trouble in women.
- Cold Sweats: Getting really sweaty, especially if it happens with other symptoms, could mean heart problems.
How Women Are Treated
Doctors treat heart disease in women in a way that fits their unique needs and risks. Some of the treatments are the same for men and women, but there are things that are special for women’s heart health:
- Healthy Changes: Changing how you live is the most important way to prevent and manage heart disease. Women should try to keep a healthy weight, exercise often, eat foods that are good for the heart, manage stress, and not smoke.
- Medicine: Doctors might prescribe medicines like statins, blood pressure drugs, and drugs to stop the blood from clotting based on how likely a woman is to get heart disease and how bad it is. Hormone therapy is a bit tricky, so women should talk to their doctor about the good and bad sides of it.
- Heart Rehab: These programs help women get better after heart problems and teach them how to live in a way that’s good for their heart.
- Procedures: Sometimes women need surgery or other procedures, like angioplasty or bypass surgery, to treat blocked arteries. The kind of procedure depends on how much blockage there is and where it is.
- Prevention: Because pregnancy problems can be linked to heart disease, women who had gestational diabetes or preeclampsia should be watched closely and take steps to lower their chances of getting heart problems.
- Mental Health Help: It’s important to deal with mental health problems, like depression and stress, because they can hurt the heart. Women should get help when they need it to keep their heart healthy.
Women’s heart health is really important. While heart disease can affect both men and women, women have their own special risks, signs, and treatments. Knowing these things and doing what you can to keep your heart healthy is key to lowering the risk of heart disease in women. Regular check-ups, talking to your doctor, and taking steps to live a heart-healthy life can help women live longer and better. Remember, no matter if you’re a man or a woman, the best way to avoid heart disease is to live in a way that’s good for your heart.
Image Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/heart-health/women-still-ignore-heart-risks-group-says-n504006