Though heart problems are traditionally thought of as men’s problems, heart disease is the number 1 killer of women as well. Typically heart problems in women occur later in life, so in that sense females are lucky; however female heart disease manifests differently and is also more difficult to detect than male heart disease.
Heart problems in women can be detected and kept in check by doing the following-
Known your risks
Family history of heart disease is a strong predictor of heart disease in women so if there is a family history of heart problems; women need to be even more on guard.
Until women attain menopause, the estrogen that their bodies produce, offer a natural protection against heart disease.
However after menopause, when this natural protection is no longer available, the risk of heart problems in women is significantly elevated and this is when women need to start being more vigilant about the health of their heart.
The classic symptoms of heart disease when the person having a heart attack clutches their chest in pain may actually be absent when a woman has a heart attack.
Instead a woman may have non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, anxiety, digestive disturbances, a feeling of pressure in the chest, shortness of breath and sleep disturbances a few weeks before a heart attack. There is the need to recognize these symptoms and identify them as signs of heart problems in women.
Have regular checkups
Keep abreast of your blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels because they are predictors of heart disease for women as well as men. Ideally, your good cholesterol should be at least 50 mg/dL and your LDL (what is considered the bad cholesterol) should be less than 100 mg/dL, with your total cholesterol levels being no higher than 200 mg/dL.
Triglycerides levels should be less than 150 mg/dL, blood pressure should be the standard 120 over 80 and blood glucose levels (fasting) should be lower than 100 mg/dL. Get regular checkups to see that these predictors of heart problems in women are kept in check and not allowed to spiral out of control. Try and maintain a steady, healthy body weight as well.
If advised, undergo an electro cardiogram to measure the activity of the heart, its rhythm and irregularities if any. This will detect if there is inadequate supply of blood to the heart. Various blood protein tests are also able to detect irregularities that mean heart disease. Stress tests will be able to show how well your heart performs during exertion.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), EBT (electron beam computed tomography) or an MCG (multi function cardiogram) are other tests that will tell you more about the presence of the heart problems in women. Regular heart and health checkups will tell you whether you need to undergo such tests to get more information about how well or poorly a heart is performing as well as why. This can help formulate effective treatment and management protocols.