While some aspects of a heart attack are universal, there are some differences in how heart attacks affect men and women. Additionally, women have different risk factors than men, and display different symptoms. Many people are unaware of this, instead believing that heart attacks are the same for everyone. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack in a woman versus those you would see in a man, as this distinction could allow you to recognize the appropriate warning signs and seek treatment.
Not so long ago, heart disease killed more men than women. In recent years, however, heart disease has become more prevalent in women. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in America. The signs and symptoms associated with a heart attack are much different in women than they are in men. Women often feel experience fatigue and disturbed sleep. Prior to a heart attack, many women will start to experience sudden anxiety and shortness of breath. Indigestion is also a common symptom in women. Men, on the other hand, tend to experience cold sweat and begin to feel weak and dizzy.
Men are also more likely to feel the classic pain and tightness in the chest, whereas women tend to feel a much milder pain. This discrepancy in symptoms is imperative in early detection and treatment. A woman suffering a heart attack may dismiss symptoms like indigestion due to the fact that they are not experiencing the chest pain generally associated with a heart attack. This failure to recognize warning signs may be the reason more women are dying of heart disease. Because women are less likely to display typical heart attack symptoms, they are also less likely to immediately seek treatment.
There are certain risk factors that affect both men and women. Some, however, are more specific to women than to men, and vice versa. Knowing the different risk factors for men and women is imperative for health.
In women, diabetes increases the risk of a heart attack significantly more than in men. Metabolic syndrome is similar in that it affects both men and women, but it puts women at a much greater risk than it does men. Both diabetes and metabolic syndrome are related to lifestyle. Knowing the increased risk they pose, women should take extra care to exercise regularly and be conscious of their dietary choices. Depression has been found to impact women’s heart health more so than in men, as does smoking. Hormonal risk factors for women include low levels of estrogen, and complications from pregnancy. Oral contraceptives also significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
Knowing how the signs and risk factors for heart disease vary from men to women is vital. This knowledge may help people make more health conscious lifestyle choices. Recognizing the symptoms most common in women may lead to a decrease in death from heart attacks. Perhaps, armed with the knowledge of what to look for and what to avoid, we can begin to lean more toward prevention and wellness.