There are many things that are worrying about heart disease in women – heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the world but this is not as well known as the fact that it is the No. 1 killer of men. More women than men die from their disease than do men.
Women tend to undermine and downplay symptoms that they have; it is also seen that they wait longer to get to the hospital; with the result that more women than men are declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Why heart disease is particularly dangerous for women is the fact that the typical chest pains that we imagine are a precursor to a heart attack are absent half the time.
Fully 50% of women experience no chest pains. So while rates of men dying from heart disease have declined quite significantly among men, worryingly, the rates of women dying from the same disease have not declined as much.
So in fact women are more at risk of dying from heart disease than men and according to Dr Kathy Magliato, who is also president of the American Heart Association of Greater Los Angeles, we now have to think of it as a woman’s disease rather than a man’s disease.
Another problem in detecting heart disease in women is the fact that women tend to develop blockages in the smaller blood vessels making detection that much more difficult than men who usually develop the blockages in larger blood vessels.
So it is important for a woman not only to eat healthy and exercise regularly to prevent heart disease, she also needs to know the most common symptoms of heart disease in women such as:
- Fatigue that has no discernible explanation or cause and fatigue that is persistent and recurrent.
- Indigestion or nausea, or pain in the upper abdomen region.
- Feeling of getting winded or becoming short of breath.
- Pain in the throat or the jaw.
- Pain in the arm; most often the left arm (since the heart is located in the left portion of the chest cavity).
So as you see, heart disease tends to manifest rather differently among women than men, and for this reason can go unnoticed. Although fatigue can be the symptom of several different health issues, heart disease can be one and shouldn’t be ruled out until appropriate exams have been carried out. Similarly the other symptoms set out above should also be investigated promptly.