Heart Attacks: Not Just For Men + What You Need To Know
The recent passing of food writer Julie Powell, the 49-year-old author of the book that inspired the movie, “Julie & Julia,” got us thinking about heart disease, the leading cause of death for women in the US and UK! Commonly perceived as a mans disease, there actually is gender equalitythe same number of men and women die of heart disease each year. Research shows that women easily miss the early warning signs and often are misdiagnosed, even when admitted to the hospital!
According to the British Heart Foundation, 35,000 women in the UK are admitted to a hospital every year with a heart attack, yet studies show that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men. One study carried out by the University of Leeds examined 600,000 heart attack cases in the UK over a nine-year period. It reported that women who had a heart attack were 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed.
There Are Many Signs Of Heart Disease
Richard Wright, MD, cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA tells us, “When most people think of cardiovascular disease, they think of a “heart attack”. Unlike some other cardiovascular symptoms, those from a heart attack arise directly from the heart. When the heart is deprived of blood flow it begins to ache, as any such jeopardized tissue would do. The problem is that the heart is an internal organ and it is difficult for the body to localize from where such discomfort is arising. As such, individuals with ongoing heart “pain” will usually feel heaviness in the front upper chest, which may or may not extend into the throat, neck, lower jaw, shoulders, upper arms, or high back. Most people do not even describe this as pain, but rather as a discomfort which persists for many minutes and is often accompanied by unexplained sweating, queasiness, and generalized malaise.”6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
However, there are other symptoms of heart disease. The second large category is when the heart no longer does its job of maintaining adequate blood pressure and blood flow to the body. At such times, individuals will feel faint or might actually pass out. If the heart cannot increase blood flow during exercise then symptoms of exercise intolerance develop. People often describe that at such times they simply cannot do what they are used to doing, as they are fatigued, have less stamina, “run out of gas”, and get short of breath with activity.
This Is Why So Many People Have Heart Disease Even Though It’s Preventable
According to Joyce Oen-Hsiao, MD, a Yale Medicine Cardiologist, “Often people do not know that they have risk factors for heart disease until their first event. Because of this, they are not identified early enough to prevent an event from happening Also, even if people do have risk factors or a family history of heart disease, often people are so busy with life: work, family, etc, that they don’t make the time to do the things that can keep them healthy. “
Evan Jacobs, M.D., board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, echocardiography, vascular ultrasound, and nuclear cardiology with Conviva Care Centers says, “The majority of heart disease occurs as a result of lifestyle. An unhealthy diet and poor exercise habits lead to weight gain, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes all potent contributors to the development of heart disease. People should know that heart disease is by and large the most preventable form of illness people develop. A healthy lifestyle, including a Mediterranean style diet and regular aerobic exercise, can prevent heart disease in most people.”
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What Should I Do If I Have Heart Attack Symptoms
If you think you, or someone else, may be having a heart attack, call 911 right away. Do not drive yourself to the hospital, and do not let a friend drive you. You may need medical help on the way to the hospital. Ambulance workers are trained to treat you on the way to the emergency room.
Getting to the hospital quickly is important. Treatments for opening clogged arteries work best within the first hour after a heart attack starts.
If you think you’re having a heart attack, get emergency help right away. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are overreacting or to wait and see. Get tips on how best to describe your symptoms and how to ask for tests that can show whether you’re having a heart attack.
Preventing A Heart Attack
There are 5 main steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a heart attack :
- smokers should quit smoking
- lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- do regular exercise adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, unless advised otherwise by the doctor in charge of your care
- eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet, including wholegrains and at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- moderate your alcohol consumption
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A Different Kind Of Heart Attack
If you have mild symptoms, they may be caused by a silent heart attack. These heart attacks are less likely to cause symptoms. Often, you may not know youve had one until days or even weeks later.
Theyre more common in women, particularly women under 65.
To identify whether youve had one, your doctor may perform an electrocardiogram, also called an EKG or ECG. This non-invasive test uses small sensors attached to your chest and arms to record your hearts electrical activity.
If testing does detect a silent heart attack, your doctor may suggest treatments like medication or cardiac rehab.
How Do I Know If I Am At Risk For A Heart Attack
A heart attack can happen to anyone, woman or man, young or old. Some people are more at risk because of certain health problems, family health history, age, and habits. These are called risk factors.
You can’t change some risk factors, like your age, race or ethnicity, or family history. The good news is that you can change or control many risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and unhealthy eating.
Learn more about controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for heart disease.
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Heart Attack Treatment For Women
The treatment for heart attack in women is the same as it is for men.
A recent study in the United Kingdom showed that women having a heart attack were 50% more likely than men to be misdiagnosed, leading to a delay in treatment and poorer outcomes. However there is no evidence to show that the same is true for New Zealand women.
This Represents A Missed Opportunity
The new study included 2,009 women and 976 men, ages 18 to 55, who had been hospitalized in the US for having an acute heart attack between August 2008 and January 2012. One hundred and three hospitals across the country were included in the study.
Shortly after their heart attack, the patients were interviewed and asked whether they had seen their doctor in the week before going to the hospital. They also were asked whether their doctor told them that their symptoms might be related to a heart problem.
About 22.1% of men and 29.5% of women said they sought medical care for their symptoms before their hospitalization, but only 37% of those men compared with 53% of those women said that their doctors did not think their symptoms were heart-related.
From my perspective, this represents a missed opportunity to identify symptoms of heart disease, even if they are reported within the context of multiple non-chest pain symptoms particularly in a population with multiple risk factors for heart disease, Lichtman said.
Though risk factors were common for both sexes, the researchers wrote that the women were more likely than the men to have a history of congestive heart failure, diabetes, obesity, stroke, chronic kidney disease and chronic lung disease.
The majority of women, 87%, and men, 89.5%, said they experienced chest pain.
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Do Women Do Worse Than Men After A Heart Attack
Yes. In all age groups, women do worse than men after a heart attack. Researchers are not sure why this is, especially for younger women.
- Women between 45 and 65 who have a heart attack are more likely than men of the same age to die within a year of a heart attack.4 However, heart attack is less common in younger women than in younger men. This is partly because the hormone estrogen protects against heart disease in younger women.
- Women older than 65 are more likely than men of the same age to die within a few weeks of a heart attack.4 Women usually have heart attacks about 10 years later than men. The average age of a first heart attack for men is 64, but it is 72 for women.
Many women who have had a heart attack go on to lead full, active lives. Know the symptoms of a heart attack and what to do if you have any symptoms. Take steps to recover after a heart attack and prevent another heart attack.
Simple Test Can Predict Your Risk Of Fatal Heart Attack In The Next 3 Years
Speaking to The Sun, one expert said there are a whole host of other symptoms that people might suffer.
Dr Anushka Patchava, deputy chief medical officer for Vitality explained that usual symptoms include chest pain, chest tightness, chest heaviness which could suggest your heart muscle is not receiving enough oxygenated blood.
There may also be pain or weakness in our legs and arms again, due to reduced circulation, the expert said.
She added: “Other symptoms of cardiovascular disease might be breathlessness, heart palpitations .
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Heart Attack Testing: Faq
Q: Why do I have to submit to a bunch of tests?A: Tests help the doctor determine if a heart attack occurred, how much your heart was damaged and what degree of coronary artery disease you might have. The tests screen your heart and help the doctor determine what treatment and lifestyle changes will keep your heart healthy and prevent serious future medical events.
Q: Whats the difference between invasive and non-invasive tests?A: Non-invasive cardiac tests measure your hearts activity through external imaging and electrocardiography. Invasive tests include drawing and testing samples of your blood, and inserting and threading a thin hollow tube called a catheter into a blood vessel to get an inside view.
Q: How can I learn more about the tests that may be performed?A: These diagnostic tests and procedures can reveal if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.
Q: What types of treatment will I get after the hospital diagnoses my heart attack?A: If youve had a heart attack, you may have already had undergone certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack. Those same procedures can help to diagnose your condition. Such procedures include:
How Is Heart Disease Treated In Women
Similar action is taken to treat heart disease in both men and women. Depending on the diagnosis, treatments can include medications, angioplasty, stenting, coronary bypass surgery or cardiac rehabilitation. Your doctor may also recommend a change in lifestyle to delay the onset of heart disease.
The most recent research shows that women are often being under-treated when it comes to heart disease, with women who suffer a heart attack half as likely to receive proper treatments and twice as likely to die as men.
This highlights the need for women to be aware of their risk factors, as well as symptoms of heart disease, and learn what can be done to treat heart disease.
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Are You At Increased Risk
Aging is a significant risk factor, with more than 88,000 women between ages 45 and 64 having heart attacks each year. At menopause, a womans heart disease risk increases significantly, Dr. Anderson says. However, risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease and being overweight and smoking increase the possibility of heart attack in women at even younger ages.
The Cancer Symptom You Can Taste
“This can lead to anxiety, hot sweats and dizziness and feeling faint, as well as tiredness. All signs that the body is not getting enough oxygen.
“With moderate and severe vascular conditions, it is also possible that an individual might experience swollen limbs. Extremities, such as toes or fingers, can go blue which could be a potential sign that you are at risk of a heart attack.
“While chest pain is the most common symptom, other symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling or being sick and back or jaw pain can also occur.”
When it comes to cardiovascular disease, Dr Patchava explained that it can be split into two parts.
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How Is A Heart Attack Treated
Heart attack is most often treated with medicine or nonsurgical procedures that break up blood clots and restore normal blood flow to the heart. Some treatments will start right away, when the ambulance comes. You will get other treatments later, in the hospital.
Getting treatment right away for a heart attack can help prevent or limit damage to your heart muscle. This is one reason why it is important to call 911 if you think you are having a heart attack, rather than driving yourself to the hospital.
Common Symptoms To Watch Out For
Dr. Ni explains, “The five most common symptoms of CVD are chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness or lightheadedness, and exertional fatigue. Chest pain or pressure is typically mid-chest, and may travel to other areas of the body, such as the jaw, the arm, or the back.
Palpitations may include sensations of extra heartbeats, skipped heartbeats, or fast racing heartbeats. Exertional fatigue is typically an inability to physically exert yourself to a level that you used to be able to do easily. For example, you can’t go up the stairs in your apartment as easily as before, or it is getting harder to take your usual walk around your neighborhood. ”
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How Do Symptoms Differ For Women
- Different activities bring on chest pain. In men, angina tends to worsen with physical activity and go away with rest. Women are more likely than men to have angina while they are resting. In women who have coronary microvascular disease, angina often happens during routine daily activities, such as shopping or cooking, rather than during exercise. Microvascular angina events may last longer and be more painful than other types of angina.
- The location and type of pain may differ. Pain symptoms are different for each person. Women having angina or a heart attack often describe their chest pain as crushing, or they say it feels like pressure, squeezing, or tightness. Women also may have pain in the chest or the neck and throat.
- Mental stress is more likely to trigger angina pain in women than in men.
- Other symptoms common for women include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, sleep problems, tiredness, and lack of energy.
Heart Attack Or Something Else
Although a heart attack may be the first thing that comes to mind, other common medical conditions can cause similar symptoms.
Dr. Vaishnav notes these conditions can mimic a heart attack:
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Pulmonary embolism
- Emotional stress
If you’re having symptoms, even minor ones, talk to your doctor or head to the nearest emergency room.
Wed much rather you get checked and be fine, Dr. Vaishnav says.
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Recovering From A Heart Attack
The time it takes to recover from a heart attack will depend on the amount of damage to your heart muscle.
Most people can return to work after having a heart attack. Some people are well enough to return to work after 2 weeks. Other people may take several months to recover. How quickly you can go back to work depends on your health, the state of your heart and the type of work you do.
The recovery process aims to:
- reduce your risk of another heart attack through a combination of lifestyle changes , and medicines , which help to lower blood cholesterol levels
- gradually restore your physical fitness so you can resume normal activities
Heart Attack Symptoms Are They Different For Men And Women
Three minute read
Every year, more than one million people in the U.S. suffer from a heart attack. This means every 40 seconds someone in the US experiences congestive heart failure. Although heart disease death rates have fallen steadily for men, the rates for women have decreased only slightly.
Why is there such a discrepancy between men and women? A lot of it has to do with the variances in symptoms of heart attacks for each gender.
Difference in heart attack symptoms for men and women
Chest tightening, sweating and pain in the shoulder and arm are the most well-known symptoms of a heart attack. For years, many believed these were the only symptoms to look out for, but as we learn more about cardiovascular disease, we find that there are significant differences in how men and women experience a heart attack.
Warning signs in men
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men. In fact, 1 in every 4 males die from a heart attack. Men also experience heart attacks earlier in life compared to women. Men exhibit the following symptoms during a heart attack:
- Chest pain/tightening that feels like an elephant sitting on your chest. Also, a squeezing sensation that comes and goes or remains constant
- Upper body pain in the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Rapid heartbeats
Warning signs in women
Women are less likely to seek treatment
What to do if you think youre having a heart attack
Schedule regular check-ups
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