The numbers are alarming: 43.8 million women are currently living with some form of heart disease. Women have more of a chance of dying from a heart attack than all types of cancer combined and they die from heart disease more than do their male counterparts. If these facts are surprising to you, it might be due to the fact that heart attacks are typically associated more with men than with women. It is because of this that puts women at an even higher risk, because when it hits, nobody places a heart attack as a possible culprit.
The media portrays heart attacks for men as dramatic and sudden, but for a woman, the symptoms of a heart attack may be more subtle. She might even dismiss it as something else, like the flu.
Here are some common heart attack warning signs in women:
1. Unusual Fatigue
You might feel tired most of the time, but this is sudden or severe fatigue that is out of the ordinary. Don’t take this symptom lightly, especially if other symptoms listed here accompany it.
2. Sweating and Shortness of Breath
This includes breaking out in a cold sweat, which might be dismissed as a flu symptom. Keep track if you experience these symptoms while resting or if they continue to get worse after exercise. If accompanied by chest pain, call 911.
3. Pain in Areas Other Than the Chest
Pain doesn’t always occur in the area where the problem exists. Jaw pain, back pain or pain in either arm could be an early heart attack warning.
4. Nausea or Vomiting
These symptoms are also easily dismissed as a stomach bug or some other less severe illness. Women in particular are more likely to experience nausea or vomiting as symptoms of a heart attack.
5. Chest Pressure
For women, this isn’t always intense as it might be for men. It could be an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness of pain in the center of your chest, or it could be nonexistent altogether. It usually lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. Some women have described upper back pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them.
The Problem of Plaque
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of plaque. The good news is there are steps you can take to decrease your chances of having a heart attack.
1. Cut Back on Sugar
Too much sugar has a wide variety of negative effects on your body, and one of them is that is lowers good cholesterol and increased triglycerides. This ups your risk for heart attack.
Don’t overdo it, as strenuous daily activity will increase your risk for heart attack, but women who incorporate moderate exercise have a decreased risk of heart attack as compared to women who do not exercise at all.
3. Eat Right
Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet and up your garlic intake. Garlic is known to lower blood pressure. If you can’t stand the taste consider taking the supplement form. High inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart attack. Help fight this inflammation with Curcumin, the compound that gives Tumeric its yellow color. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory that has been found to reduce plague buildup in the arteries.
4. Take Supplements
Take fish oil to help dilate your arteries. This will make it easier for blood to pass through. Vitamin C protects your arteries from damage, Vitamin K prevents against calcification (hardening of the arteries), which could lead to heart attack.
Bottom line: Pay attention to your body and know that it is better to error on the side of caution. If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 911 and get to a hospital immediately.