Many people think that heart disease is a man’s disease, yet more women die from heart disease than anything else. The truth is, being a woman puts you at risk for heart disease and the risk tends to increase at age 40.
If you are African American or a Hispanic American/Latina woman you tend to have more risk factors than white women, but any woman is susceptible. The good news is there are simple things you can do to lower your risk.
When you think about heart disease, you probably think about crushing chest pain. That may be true for a man, but men and women may experience different heart attack symptoms. A Woman’s pain may be much more subtle. Many women who have heart disease may not have chest pain, or for that matter, any symptoms at all until a heart attack strikes.
Many women experience an achy, tight or heavy feeling, rather than specific pain, and it might be in their back, not their chest, so it may not be recognized as a heart attack. Woman may have pain in their neck, shoulder, or stomach, which could cause nausea or vomiting; they may experience shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness, or unusual fatigue.
Heart disease includes a number of problems affecting the heart and the blood vessels in the heart. Some of the important symptoms for heart disease in women are:
• feeling very tired, even after getting enough sleep.
• trouble breathing
• trouble sleeping
• feeling sick to the stomach
• feeling scared or nervous
• new or worse headaches
• chest aches
If you experience any of these feelings, don’t wait; see your doctor right away.
"Women don't develop heart disease as early as men, but their risk is just as great," said Iva Smolens, M.D., a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and the medical director of The Women's Heart Center at Banner Heart Hospital.