February is a good time to focus on everyone’s heart health, including learning common symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women, and what to do if one strikes.
Heart disease is often thought to be more of a health issue affecting men. However, it’s the most common cause of death for women in the United States, causing about 300,000 deaths annually. Because symptoms in women can differ from those in men, it can be more difficult to spot the signs. By understanding the symptoms and making healthier lifestyle choices, you may help reduce your risk.
Heart disease doesn’t occur just in older women. Young women, especially those with a family history of heart disease, should also take precautions.
Knowing the symptoms, risk factors and heart-healthy lifestyle tips may help protect you.
Heart disease symptoms for women may range from the common signs like pressure in the chest, which is similar for both men and women. However, women are more likely than men to experience a variety of other symptoms. This may be because women tend to have blockages in smaller arteries, as well as their main arteries.
Symptoms to watch out for include nausea, vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness or fatigue. Other symptoms are pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, abdomen or back.
Women also may not experience any symptoms if their heart disease is “silent” meaning they may not know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack, arrhythmia or heart failure.
While there may be risk factors you can’t control, making the choice to start a heart-healthy lifestyle is one way to help lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day.
Consider these changes to help lower your risk of heart disease:
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthier
- Manage your stress
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Prioritize sleep
During this year’s American Heart Month in February, it’s the right time to learn more about the disease and if you may be at increased risk. Don’t wait for the symptoms to appear – take preventable action to help maintain your health.
– By Dr. Damanpreet Jamarai, Senior Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare, California.
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