Pull out that red dress. We need to increase awareness about women and heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of preventable death in persons aged 40 to 65. Check out Go Red at www.goredforwomen.org for important, relevant information about what causes heart disease in women, what is the survival rate for heart disease patients, what are the symptoms of a heart attack and do all women share the same risk?
The reality is: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is responsible for one out of every three deaths annually, which works out to one woman dying every minute.
Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women. More importantly, not only are women affected differently, but the warning signs are different for women than men and are often missed.
Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked by a buildup of plaque in coronary arteries. Stress is now being identified as a cause for heart attacks in women, so you can’t deny it any longer.
It’s interesting that women comprise only 24 percent of participants in heart-related studies. But medical care providers are beginning to acknowledge that treatment and care for women needs to be different than for men.
We know your sense of smell and hearing change as we age, but did you know that your heart changes as well? Male and female hearts change differently, according to a study reported in October 2015 in Radiology. The study examined heart images of 3,000 adults 10 years apart and found that the heart muscle in women shrinks while the muscle around a ventricle in a man’s heart thickens with age. The filling capacity of the heart is reduced in women, resulting in less blood being pushed to vital organs. According to research, we are learning that women tend to have smaller organs that act differently than a man’s heart.
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely to experience other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or lightheadness and pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Women may also feel pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of their chest that can last for several minutes before going away and coming back.
If you feel any of these symptoms, you shouldn’t second-guess yourself but get immediate care.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.