Heart Attack Symptoms Differ in Women

heartattackAttention Women: Do you believe you would recognize heart attack symptoms if you had them?  You are probably wrong because they are totally different from men's. 

HEART DISEASE IS THE #1 CAUSE OF DEATH IN U.S. WOMEN

Because too many of us don't know how to recognize women's symptoms of heart attack, the mortality rate in women from heart disease is rising, especially among older women.

As our lives parallel men's, heart attack and stroke death rates are on the rise among women.

RISK FACTORS THAT CAUSE HEART ATTACKS AND STROKES

The most common causes of heart attacks and strokes are:

• Hypertension or worry about family, financials, job, children
• Balancing career and family
• Lack of proper nutrition
• Excess weight
• Insufficient exercise
• Aging (post-menopausal)
• High cholesterol
• Smoking
• Excess drinking
• Addictive habits (drugs)

STATISTICS

One in four U.S. women dies of heart disease, compared with one in thirty who dies of breast cancer!

Eighty percent of women aged 40 to 60 have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Having one or more risk factors intensifies a woman's chance of developing heart disease.

According to the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI), having just one risk factor doubles your chance of developing heart disease.

Not only older women suffer risk factors. Among women 18+ years:

• 17.3 percent are current smokers
• 51.6 percent are overweight
• 27.0 percent suffer from hypertension
• 35.0 percent have high cholesterol
• 53.0 percent do not meet physical activity recommendations

African-American and Hispanic women have higher rates of risk factors, so are more apt to contract heart disease, compared with white women.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEART ATTACK AND STROKE

Very briefly:

A heart attack is a sudden blockage of a coronary artery which leads to death of part of the heart muscle due to its loss of blood supply.

A stroke is the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen caused by blockage of blood flow or rupture of an artery to the brain.


HELP! I THINK I'M HAVING A HEART ATTACK

Typically, a woman's symptoms are:

  • Upper back or shoulder pain
    Jaw pain or pain spreading to the jaw
    Pressure or pain in the center of the chest
    Lightheadedness
    Pain that spreads to the arm
    Unusual fatigue for several days

Like stroke, a heart attack is a medical emergency and fast, accurate response is critical.

If you suspect that you're having a heart attack, call 911 immediately and insist on being taken to the closest emergency medical facility, by ambulance.

If you aren't sure that what you're feeling is an about-to-occur heart attack, call 911 anyway.

The faster you act, the more likely you are to be treated in time and enjoy total recovery. The longer you wait, the more permanent the damage to your heart muscle.

Rapid expert intervention is of critical importance, and begins in the ambulance.

Going to the hospital by ambulance, rather than car, improves your chances for a successful recovery because an ambulance is essentially a hospital on wheels staffed by experts who:

• Assess your condition
• Communicate with the hospital so no time is wasted in preparing for your arrival
• Start potentially life-saving treatment immediately before you reach the hospital

Click here to read the an ER nurses's accounting of her own heart attack.

EVERY SECOND COUNTS WHEN YOU'RE HAVING A HEART ATTACK OR STROKE

Irregular heart rhythms that can occur during a heart attack may cause quick death if you're not...

• on a heart monitor
• being given necessary medications
• treated with the right equipment, such as a defibrillator.

When a coronary artery is completely blocked by a blood clot and blood can't reach the heart muscle, the muscle begins to die. Called a STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction), it's diagnosed in the ambulance by an electrocardiogram (EKG).

To restore blood flow and minimize damage to the heart muscle, fast action is required.

WHY DOES A HEART ATTACK HAPPEN?
Heart disease most often results from a narrowing or blockage of your coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart. Coronary artery disease happens slowly over time, which is why it's so important that you schedule annual checkups with your doctor.

Sadly, two-thirds of women who experience a heart attack fail to make a full recovery, and women who have had a heart attack are at greater risk for having a second one.

Another factor is genetics: If your parents or any member of your family had suffered heart disease or stroke, your chances of experiencing one is greater.

The older a woman gets, the more likely she is to suffer heart disease.


HOW CAN I CHANGE MY LIFE AND SAVE MY HEART?

Begin right now to live a heart healthy life:

• Exercise, exercise, exercise!!!
• Consult with your doctor about a heart healthy diet that's right for your lifestyle and health.
• If you're a smoker, S-T-O-P! Immediately. There are many successful smoking cessation programs out there. Join them and save Y-O-U-R life!
• If you drink in excess of what your doctor feels is right for you, lower your alcohol intake. Moderate drinking is okay, but consult your doctor for his definition of moderate drinking.
• If you suffer from hypertension of any kind, take up yoga, meditation, or a similar program that teaches you to relax, and through which you learn to calm your nerves and keep balanced.
• Have relaxing massages periodically.
• Look into reiki and semei – alternative types of healing.
• If you're a couch potato, get up and move around. It's not only better for your heart: it's better for your brain and memory.
• Look into acupuncture for hypertension, addictive habits and relaxation.
• High triglyceride levels – a harmful type of body fat – must be controlled with your doctor's help, as they add to your cholesterol which increases your chances of blocked arteries – heart attack or stroke.

Here's to your healthy heart! A healthy woman with a healthy heart is a happy woman.

Last modified onTuesday, 19 March 2013 15:52

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