The month of February is National Heart Month, when we focus on heart health and raise awareness of the symptoms and causes of heart disease and how they may differ from men to women.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, more than cancers, strokes or other conditions.
And the symptoms can indeed vary greatly from those experienced by men.
While many suffer the chest pains like men, far fewer do than men. Men tend to suffer those "classic" chest pains more often. Women often report that they felt ill up to a month before their actual heart attack. The symptoms included extreme fatigue, nausea, indigestion, difficulty sleeping and shortness of breath. Men tend to experience fewer warning symptoms. Recognizing these symptoms can be crucial in getting immediate medical attention.
According to a study by the National Institute of Heath, women's symptoms are less predictable than men's. Here are some of the statistics of women's symptoms and how often they occur:
Before a heart attack
-Unusual fatigue - 70%
-Sleep disturbance - 48%
-Shortness of breath - 42%
-Indigestion - 39%
-Anxiety - 35%
Major symptoms during the heart attack include:
-Shortness of breath - 58%
-Weakness - 55%
-Unusual fatigue - 43%
-Cold sweat - 39%
-Dizziness - 39%
Only 30% of women reported chest pain.
While a heart attack may not always be avoidable, there are ways to increase your likelihood of maintaining optimum heart health:
Take regular exercise
Do not smoke
Eat a healthy diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables, leans proteins, omega 3 fatty aids, low in others fats (especially saturated and trans fats).
Limit alcohol (although a glass of red wine has shown to be heart healthy)
Get regular health screenings
Know your family history
Maintain a healthy weight
Have you (or someone you know) experienced a heart attack or heart disease? Did you have warning signs? What were they?
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