Heart disease is a serious health condition that affects millions of Americans men and women alike. However, women’s symptoms and warning signs often differ from those experienced by men and are often harder to spot. According to the American Heart Association, “Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.”
For women, the most common heart-related issue is coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart slows down or is blocked due to a buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries. As a result, the heart may not receive enough oxygen and nutrients to properly function. If left untreated, the buildup can increase and trigger a heart attack.
It is important to know the warning signs of heart disease in women as it can be difficult to detect in its early stages. It is also important to get regular check-ups from your doctor to ensure that any changes to your heart health are noticed. The following are some of the common warning signs of heart diseases in women.
Chest Pain and Discomfort
According to healthline, One of the primary warning signs of heart disease in women is chest pain and discomfort. This pain will often be described as a squeezing or tightness in the chest that lasts for a few minutes and can sometimes radiate to the neck, throat, jaw, arm, or back. It may also come in short bursts or be felt more constantly.
When experiencing this chest pain, it is important to pay attention to the severity and nature of the discomfort. For example, if the pain is described as sharp and intermittent it could be a sign of coronary artery spasms. If it’s a dull and deep ache, it may signal a lack of oxygen in the blood due to blocked arteries.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath or a feeling of fatigue when engaging in normal physical activities is another sign of heart disease in women. A decrease in oxygen to the muscles and other parts of the body due to blocked or narrowed arteries can lead to a difficulty in breathing. This is particularly true for women who have an existing history of asthma or other lung diseases.
It is important to pay attention to sudden and/or extreme changes in breathing patterns. This could be a sign of an impending heart attack and should be given prompt attention.
Another sign of heart disease in women is excessive sweating. Women who experience sudden, excessive sweating without having exerted energy or without being in a situation that could cause them to be hot, should consult their doctor right away. This sweating can also manifest itself in the form of a cold, clammy feeling.
Pain in the Upper Body
Pain in the arms, shoulder, back or stomach area can also be a sign of heart disease in women. This can be particularly pronounced on the left side of the chest, but the pain can be felt throughout the whole upper body.
It is important to note that this pain can vary from mild to severe and may or may not be felt in combination with other symptoms such as chest pressure, tightness, and shortness of breath.
Nausea and Dizziness
Nausea and dizziness are two other common warning signs for women that may indicate an issue with their heart. An increase in heart rate can cause a feeling of dizziness and nausea, as can a decrease in blood pressure.
Women should take note of any nausea they experience in combination with the other warning signs of heart disease. This is particularly important if the feeling persists or worsens without any cause.
A sudden increase in heart rate is another red flag that is more easy to discern in women than men. This symptom is also known as palpitations and can range from a mild fluttering to an extreme racing of the heart. It is important to note that these racing sensations may occur even when the person is resting.
In addition to knowing the warning signs of heart disease in women, it is important to recognize the risk factors that can make you more vulnerable to this serious health condition. These include but are not limited to:
• High Blood Pressure
• High Cholesterol
• Sedentary Lifestyle
• Family History
Heart disease is a serious health condition that disproportionately affects women. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and take them seriously if they arise. It is strongly recommended to speak with your doctor if anything changes or if you suspect that you may have a heart-related issue. Furthermore, it is important to educate yourself on the risk factors that can put you more at risk and take the necessary precautions.