National Women’s Heart Week is designed to help bring awareness to the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of American women over the age of 34. During this time, organizations come together to help educate women about heart disease, prevention, early intervention and symptoms awareness. Many women are not aware of the life-threatening risk that even the mildest symptoms may have.
For these reasons, Surepoint Emergency Center would like women everywhere, now more than ever, to take time out for themselves and be given the reminder – Take Care of Your Heart.
Common Heart Problems that Affect Women
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, refers to a wide range of problems that affect the heart. Heart disease includes diseases of the blood vessels, including stroke, coronary artery disease and vascular disease. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease. Common heart problems that affect women include:
- Heart failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Atrial fibrillation
- Heart valve disease
- Chest pain and discomfort (angina) (affects women more than men). There are two specific types of angina: stable angina and variant angina
- Cardiac syndrome X (affects women more than men)
Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women
The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary artery disease, which is due to a buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries that supply your blood to the heart, this is known as atherosclerosis. When the blood flow is blocked, the heart muscle begins to die, which leads to a heart attack. Women who are having a heart attack are more likely than men to be misdiagnosed, which means women are less likely to get the necessary treatment before serious damages to the their heart occurs.
It is extremely important to keep in mind that women are more likely to have nontraditional symptoms of a heart attack and women are also more like to have a silent heart attack, which is a heart attack that doesn’t cause any obvious symptoms, such as pain in the chest. Heart attack symptoms of women may include:
- Pain and/or discomfort in the center of the chest-the pain may be mild or strong and it can last for more than a few minutes, or it can stop and come back
- Pain in the neck, back, throat or jaw
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty breathing
Getting to the hospital as quickly as possible is essential, because the treatments for opening clogged arteries work the best when administered within the first hour after a heart attack starts. If you think you are having a heart attack, do not drive yourself or let someone else drive you to the hospital; call 9-1-1 immediately.
There are measures you can take that may help to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, including:
- Getting preventive screenings and regular checkups from the doctor
- Staying active
- Eating healthy
- Avoiding unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking
Remember, it’s never too late or too early to work on being healthy!