Healthy heart, happy life. Facts about heart disease in women. Though breast cancer might get all the press, the number-one killer of American women is actually heart disease. In fact, heart disease is so dangerous, it is responsible for 1 in 3 deaths of women every year, which is roughly one woman every minute.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of available information about heart disease only explains how the disease manifests in men, though women display much different symptoms and require much different treatment. Misinformation may be the main reason behind heart disease’s deadliness, which means the best way you can avoid heart disease is learning the facts from the falsehoods.
True or False: Young Women Don’t Get Heart Disease
This is definitely false. In fact, younger women often engage in behaviors that make them even more susceptible to heart disease than older women, like taking birth control pills and smoking tobacco cigarettes. Though risks do increase with age, bad habits can cause heart disease to develop in young women, making cardiac arrest and stroke serious possibilities. Worst of all, women 45 and younger are dramatically more likely than older generations to die within a year of their first heart attacks. It is imperative to develop healthy habits during younger years to avoid heart disease at a young age.
True or False: Fit Women Don’t Get Heart Disease
This is also false. Even your friend who runs three marathons a year is at-risk for heart disease because exercising isn’t the only factor in maintaining heart health. The size of your waistline says next to nothing about your health; in fact, naturally skinny people are vulnerable to some of the worst health problems. How you eat, what medicines you take, how your body responds to stress, and other factors can significantly increase your likelihood of developing heart disease. Whether you are skinny or curvy, you should start checking your cholesterol and blood pressure around age 20 ― especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
True or False: Doctors Can Spot Heart Disease in Women
Unfortunately, this is false to some extent. In one survey, only 8 percent of family doctors were aware that heart disease kills more women than men. A study of emergency room procedure found that women heart patients were seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed by E.R. physicians and sent away from the hospital, more than doubling their chance of death. Perhaps it is not surprising that most women do not know the truth about heart disease if the majority of health officials are also uneducated and unaware.
True or False: Women Don’t Have Heart Attack Symptoms
Actually, this is somewhat true. What makes heart disease so fascinating and terrifying are the dissimilarities between its manifestation in men and women. Some women do suffer the familiar symptoms often found in male heart attack patients: cold sweat, gripping chest pain, and tingling arms. However, most women’s symptoms are much subtler, and few women actually recognize them for what they are. For example, some typical presentations of a woman’s heart attack include:
- Stomach discomfort or nausea
- Pain in jaw, neck, or upper back
- Fatigue or lightheadedness
A heart attack is a life or death situation, so if you are at-risk for heart disease, you should not hesitate to call for help whenever you experience a sudden onset of any of these symptoms. Roughly 64 percent of women who die of heart disease never exhibit symptoms, so regular heart check-ups are also a must, however you feel.
True or False: You can Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
This is totally true. Your life isn’t over once you receive a heart disease diagnosis. Research shows that proper changes to your lifestyle can effectively prevent more damage to your cardiovascular system and, in some cases, help your body recover. Dietary modifications are perhaps the most important; filling your plate with whole fruits, vegetables, and grains will reduce your cholesterol and made your body stronger.
Additionally, you might try these teas as substitutes for sugary drinks, which tend to hurt heart health. Experts believe that 80 percent of heart disease diagnoses are preventable, which means even a family history shouldn’t stop you from seeking a healthy lifestyle.
True or False: A Healthy Life Is Important for Everyone
This is also true. Everyone is worthy of living a long, happy life, but misinformation often prevents women from obtaining the longevity they deserve. Right now, you have the power to stay heart healthy and avoid the number-one killer of American women, and you can teach other women you know and love to do the same. The more women know about the distinctive characteristics of heart disease in their gender, the better the health care community will be at diagnosing and treating women with heart problems.