Are heart attacks different for men and women? Learn about the various gender differences dealing with heart disease.
The leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease – for both men and women. Approximately 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, with 299,578 of those being women in 2017.
While both men and women share a number of heart disease symptoms, there are important differences. For example, women are less likely to experience chest pain and more likely to feel back pain, dizziness, and more.
There are also differences in treatment, as doctors are less likely to refer women for certain diagnostic tests. Furthermore, younger women are likelier to receive a wrong diagnosis after a cardiac event and women have lower survival rates.
Pregnancy and Menopause
During pregnancy, women can experience preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy, which increases the risk of heart problems. Additionally, experiencing heart disease issues before pregnancy may increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
As women reach middle age, their heart disease risk increases due to a decrease in estrogen production and weight gain. Moreover, women going through early menopause have a higher risk of heart disease than women who haven’t gone through menopause.
Maintaining a Healthy Heart
While some factors may be out of your reach like genetics, there are various lifestyle changes you can make. The following are simple things to keep in mind if you want to maintain a healthy heart.
- Know the risk factors. Be aware of the conditions that can lead to heart diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and hyperlipidemia.
- Manage your health conditions. Each condition above has its own treatment options, but some treatments may help improve more than one condition.
- Recognize the symptoms. Not all heart problems have symptoms, but some common ones include lightheadedness, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, arm pain, and chest discomfort.
- Exercise regularly. By exercising regularly, you can improve your heart health, sleep, weight, blood pressure, and even stress.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase your blood pressure levels as well as your cholesterol and risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Eat healthy. Eat well-balanced meals full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. The DASH diet is a helpful guide for those looking to lower their blood pressure through diet.
- Quit smoking. Even second-hand smoke and vaping products have chemicals that can damage blood vessels, the heart, and lungs.
- Manage your stress. Chronic stress can negatively affect your heart health and lead to other risk factors like overeating, smoking, and poor sleep.
- Get restful sleep. While most adults need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep, about one-third of Americans fail to get that much. As a result, their risk of heart disease, hypertension, and other health conditions increases.
- Take supplements. Circulation and heart supplements like L-arginine Plus help promote nitric oxide production, which is a natural compound that increases blood flow. Take supplements daily as a way to boost your circulation and overall heart health.