A widely believed myth is that heart disease mainly affects men, but the truth is that heart disease is the main cause of death for women in the United States.
Women’s Hearts are Different
A women’s heart is different in some ways compared to man’s heart. A women’s heart is about two-thirds the size, has smaller arteries and a women’s heart beats faster.
Estrogen protects a women’s heart, but after menopause, a woman should take a more proactive heart healthy approach to diet and exercise. Recent studies have found that women under 55 were more likely to be misdiagnosed with heart disease than men. Thankfully, doctors have become more aware of the differences in heart disease symptoms in women.
Women and Heart Disease
Women reported that their doctors do not normally discuss heart disease with them while other women said that their doctors misdiagnosed their heart disease symptoms as stress, panic disorders and anxiety attacks.
Woman do not fare as well as men after having a heart attack and are more likely to die within a year of having a heart attack. The average age for a woman to have her first heart attack is 70, which is one reason women worry about other health problems instead of heart disease at a younger age.
Coronary Heart Disease in Women
The symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD) can be different in a women compared to a man. One of the common symptoms of CHD is angina, which can range from discomfort to pain in the chest. This is caused when the heart does not get enough oxygen-rich blood.
The symptoms of angina in women can occur during daily activities and are as follows:
- Sharp and burning chest pain.
- Pains in the next, jaw, throat, stomach and back.
- Women also reported to have symptoms of angina while resting or sleeping.
- Stress can trigger angina symptoms in women.
Silent Coronary Heart Disease
Silent coronary heart disease might not be diagnosed until symptoms of a heart attack or an arrhythmia are discovered. An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat.
Heart Disease Symptoms in Women
According to a report in Circulation, the following heart disease symptoms were reported by woman one month before a heart attack.
- 71% of women reported unusual fatigue
- 48% had sleep disturbances
- 42% reported shortness of breath
- 39% of women complained of indigestion
- 36% had anxiety
- 27% felt their heart racing
- 25% of the women had heavy or weak arms
The most reported heart attack symptoms for women were shortness of breath, weakness, unusual fatigue, cold sweat, dizziness, nausea and weakness in their arms. Any women having these heart disease symptoms should talk to a doctor immediately.