Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for women and kills more than 3 million women a year. Coronary artery disease (heart attack, blockage of heart arteries) affects women differently than men. Let’s learn about risk factors and symptoms of heart attack in women, so we can help reduce heart disease in women.
Gender Differences in risk factors
Historically, research regarding coronary artery disease has been concentrated on men. We now understand there are a myriad of differences between men and women where heart disease is concerned, including biological and medical. Some of the traditional risk factors affect women differently as compared to men.
- Women who smoke are at a greater risk for heart disease than men who smoke.
- Women with diabetes are at a greater risk for heart disease than men with diabetes
- Stress affects women differently than men which can lead to stress cardiomyopathy (stress induced heart failure and heart attack)
- Menopause results in low levels of estrogen and can increase the risk for heart disease in women
Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women
When it comes to women with heart disease, research studies have shown that women experience different symptoms than men so often misdiagnosed. Women are more likely to die within a year of experiencing a heart attack as compared to men of similar age.
The chief symptom of heart attack in women is still chest pain or discomfort or pressure or tightness.
However, women are more likely to experience the symptoms which they may not relate with heart attack. One out of every 4 women ignore the warning signs and symptoms or heart attack.
- Shortness of Breath
- Palpitations or fast heart beat
- Cold sweats
- Arm pain
- Indigestion or heartburn or nausea
Risk Factor Modification for Coronary artery disease Disease in Women
There are several risk factors that can be addressed by following a healthy lifestyle.
- Quit smoking
- Limit Alcohol intake
- Increase physical activity
- Regular healthcare visits for check on blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose
Don’t Ignore the minor symptoms of fatigue, heart racing, indigestion – Seek help from your Family doctor or Cardiologist.
Be sure to check out our prior blog post on how exercising between the ages of 45-64 can improve heart health!
- Women's early warning symptoms of acute myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2003 Nov 25;108(21):2619-23