February is National Heart Awareness Month!

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States today?  If you do, you’re among only the 56% of the women that recognize this fact – meaning 44% don’t. Yes, even with the Go for Red campaigns, American Heart Association efforts and many others, there is still a huge lack of knowledge regarding heart disease in the United States today. In 2017, approximately 300,000 women died because of heart disease, or about 1 in every 5 female deaths, representing the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Recognizing the symptoms of heart disease is even lower, especially when looking for heart attack symptoms in women. In fact, many ER visits of women who are experiencing heart attacks are misdiagnosed and mistaken for overexertion, stress, indigestion or the flu. This is one of the reasons why younger women are twice as likely to die after being hospitalized for a heart attack. Women need to understand this and need to fight harder to get proper treatment.  

That is why, at Amazing Over 40, we are here to empower you with knowledge to help you, your family and loved ones - possibly saving someone’s life!

Let’s first start with defining heart disease. Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack. It used to be referred to as a “man’s disease” but as you can see, this is no longer true.

Do you know the symptoms for a heart attack?

Most of us hear the main symptoms of a heart attack to be “an elephant on the chest with pain radiating to the left shoulder.” This is true for men- but not for women! Obviously, we are different than men in many ways, including when it comes to having a heart attack.    

For women, the most common symptoms for a heart attack are:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back – this can be confused with heartburn or indigestion, also known as gastric reflux disease, or GERD.

  • Pain in the neck, jaw or throat.

  • Dull and heavy or sharp chest pain – also known as angina.

  • Nausea and Vomiting.

  • Fatigue.

  • Dizziness.

  • Shortness of breath.

These symptoms can occur when you’re sitting reading a book or doing regular daily activities. Of course, many of us may experience these symptoms for a short period of time – I don’t want all of you thinking you’re having a heart attack. But, if your symptoms persist and become more acute, please seek help sooner than later.

By following simple lifestyle guidelines, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 80%. Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we share these tips as well as help you understand what your cholesterol levels mean when your provider orders them.

Dr. Diana