It has always been misunderstood that heart disease is the men’s problem however the statistics suggests otherwise. In united states out, it has been observed that out of 4 women, 1 is having heart related disorders.
Considering the roots of our patriarchal society, women are always referred to be involved in household activities while men took care of energy intensive activities. However, the recent trends have been changed and so that out lifestyle and eating habits.
We are converging towards the point in which we are mostly dependent upon the labor reducing inventions and on the other hand we are consuming high calorie diet. In short, we are adapting to positive calorie environment which is the major cause of heart disease among the people.
Women are the main victim of this contemporary change in the lifestyle and can result in severe heart disorders. Some of the symptoms of the disease may be similar in men and women however some of the symptoms may be different in women and can only be surfaced after serious illness.
What is Cardiovascular Disease……?
Cardiovascular disease (1, 2, 3) may have several health conditions which may not only affect the health of the heart, but it may also impact the vascular health. In severe cases it may lead to strokes and peripheral arteries damage. It may change the physical structure of the valves and may causes several health conditions such as rheumatic heart disease and cardiomyopathy.
- Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD): A heart condition that affects the heart’s tiny arteries
- Broken Heart Syndrome: Extreme emotional stress leading to severe but often short-term heart muscle failure
Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
The symptoms (4, 5, 6) of heart attack are same for both men and women such as chest pain, pressure or some sort of discomfort that lasts for few minutes. However, the most noticeable thing is that women doesn’t always complain about the chest pain, but they encounter some sort of heart attack.
The observation made it very clear that, heart attack may not have any symptom in women as compared to men. Some of the symptoms unique to women includes:
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Neck, jaw, shoulder & upper back discomfort
- Pain in one or both arms
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting and nausea
- Unexplained fatigue
These symptoms are not very noticeable like excruciating chest pain which might be due to blockage in smaller arteries in addition with main arteries.
Heart Disease Risk Factors (5)
Smoking (5, 6 , 8, 10) is the major cause of heart disease and it have greater impact in women above age of 35 than the men. Smokers are more likely to have four times higher risk of getting heart disease than the nonsmokers. Smoking may raise the risk of heart disease by the following means:
- Smoking may lead to blood thickening and even blood clot in extreme case
- Nicotine is known to increases the blood pressure and may damage heart
- It may damage the walls of blood vessels
The longer you smoke, more vulnerable you are.
Our social and cultural framework is such a way that it offers less flexibility of women in terms of physical activity. The risk of heart disease is higher in the women who are inactive.
On average, a woman should get at least 30 minutes of daily physical activities in order to avoid the risk of heart disease.
Emotional upsetting may also trigger heart attack and the risk is even greater if you have other habits such as smoking & drinking, insufficient physical exercise and unhealthy food habits.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension (5, 6 ,7, 10) raises the risk of heart disease. In this condition blood exerts immense pressure on the arteries wall and if it continues for longer period it may damage your heart.
The condition of high blood pressure may be in the family and which increases the risk of heart disease if you have unhealthy lifestyle.
The condition of high blood pressure in high in African-American women in united states and have higher risk of heart disease. It is mainly caused by the excessive body weight or obesity along with limited physical activities.
Diabetes (5, 6 ,7, 10) not only increase the risk of heart disease, but it also reduces the probability of survival in case of heart attack. This condition is similar for men and women. However, the condition of heart disease due to diabetes have significantly reduced in men over time on contrary to women.
The risk of diabetic women is higher which can be attributed to presence of extra fat around the waist. This condition is very much true for postmenopausal women.
Age & Menopausal
In younger age (5, 6 , 9, 10) our arteries are flexible and allows smooth flow of blood however, as we age, our arteries walls get stiffer and thicker which reduces the flow of blood. It is often caused by the sedimentation in arteries and the process is known as Atherosclerosis.
The onset of heart disease in in women is delayed by 10 years and it occurs post-menopausal. This unique phenomenon is caused by the release of estrogen during menstruation which gives women some protection against heart disease.
Race & Ethnicity
Race and ethnicity (6 , 9, 10) play important role in the onset of heart disease in women. As per the studies African-American and American-Indian women have high risk of heart disease compared to Asian-American women. However, heart disease remains the number one killer across race and ethnicity.
This is mainly because the said women are prone to high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, overweight, unhealthy food habits and limited physical activities.
There are varieties of ways to which may increase the risk of heart disease in women. But it is mainly governed by the unhealthy food habits and lifestyle and to some extent have related to race and ethnicity. We have mentioned some of the risk factors which increases the risk of heart disease and must be avoided to prevent heart disease. In addition to these factors it may also caused by other factors. In case of any discomfort, its advisable to consult cardiologist. “Stay Healthy, Stay Happy”.