As women advance in age, their chances of heart disease increase. However, women of all ages should be mindful of maintaining a healthy heart. This can be made possible by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

The risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and being overweight. Knowing your risk factors aren’t enough. You also need to recognize the symptoms. The symptoms of a heart attack in women are NOT the exact same ones as men.

Along with severe chest pain, the neck, jaw, shoulders, the back, and the abdomen can also be affected. So watch out for pain in these areas too.

The known symptoms of a heart attack are pressure in the chest, pain in both arms, nausea, and lightheadedness.

The most common types of heart disease in women are coronary heart disease, coronary microvascular disease, and broken heart syndrome.

Coronary heart disease is a result of the buildup of plaque over time on the inner walls of the arteries, blocking the smooth flow of blood. This blockage can lead to a heart attack.

A Coronary microvascular disease is harder to diagnose because blockages happen at the microvascular level, in the heart’s tiniest of blood vessels. Symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack occurring as a result of coronary heart disease although this form of heart disease is more deadly since it is at a micro level. Unfortunately, women are more likely to suffer from this than men.

Broken heart syndrome – This form of heart disease has only recently been recognized. Women (especially older women) are more likely to suffer from this than men where extreme emotional distress can lead to severe (but usually short-term) failure of the heart.

Symptoms are similar to a heart attack and a person can feel discomfort in the chest and can develop heart failure from it. Shortness of breath is another symptom. Heart function can return to normal post-treatment. Recurrence is a possibility.

What are some ways that heart disease can be prevented?

Eat the right foods for a healthy heart – Salmon, tuna, olive oil, orange juice, nuts and some seeds like walnuts, almonds, and flaxseeds are all proven to be excellent heart-friendly dietary options.

Stop smoking – Smoking harms your heart tremendously and leads to other complications as well.

Exercise regularly – Three to five times a week for a good half hour or so has excellent cardiovascular benefits.

Stay lean – Maintain the right weight for your age and body composition. Watch out for that waistline!

De-stress – Meet friends, spend time with family, read a nice book, get outdoors. Take some “me-time” to do what you love.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in women. The problem is both social and diagnostic in nature. In a country like India, women’s health doesn’t receive as much importance as those of men and as such don’t receive the appropriate guidelines. Get physical examinations at least once a year, learn about your family’s history of heart disease, know your risk factors and never ignore the symptoms.


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