Ladies, know your heart attack symptoms and take action

Heart Disease in Women graphic


There's a myth in this country regarding women's health. Too many women believe cancer is their worst enemy. And yes, there certainly are high risks – breast, ovarian, endometrial cancer.

However, heart disease is still the No. 1 cause of death in women. The statistics show it’s true.

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for women in the U.S., more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

When women get past age 60, their risk is equal to a man’s risk – many, many women die of a heart attack. Overall, more women die of heart disease compared to any other disease, including every type of cancer.

Women’s heart attack symptoms

Women have another serious risk – either they don’t take their own symptoms seriously, or health care practitioners sometimes don’t take them seriously. Women can have the classic symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

But more likely, their heart attack symptoms will be different:

  • Nausea
  • Lightheaded
  • Acid reflux (burning sensation in the gut that feels like heartburn)
  • A sense of simply not feeling well

Signs and symptoms } While some women have no symptoms, other commonly report symptoms include: angina, heart attack, arrythmia, heart failure, stroke

Many women don’t survive a heart attack. That’s another serious fact. You can’t afford to let yourself take the risk – not if you want to have a long life filled with friends and family, kids, grandkids and great-grand kids.

If you have these symptoms, you need medical help – immediately. Call 911! By calling 911, first responders are able to start lifesaving care right away. In order to not waste any time, before arriving to the hospital, emergency medical services (EMS) will communicate with the hospital and provide them information to guide your care.

Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

Lowering your risk

Women’s risk factors for heart disease are:

  • Family history/genetics
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • While you can’t change your family history and genetics, you can certainly change every other risk factor. With lifestyle counseling and medication, we can get cholesterol, blood pressure, stress and diabetes under control

Smoking cessation programs are very successful – with excellent counseling and multiple treatment options, including medications and nicotine-replacement methods. There’s no excuse anymore. You can quit smoking!

The threat of obesity

Obesity is a primary risk factor in fueling the heart disease epidemic. Obesity affects your entire body – blood sugar, diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure. If you get obesity under control, you’ll have your health and your heart under control.

Lifestyle is key. Nutrition, exercise and stress management are the tools. You’ve got to cut sugar, salt and harmful oils from your diet. That means cutting:

  • Sodas
  • Packaged food (jars and boxes)
  • Alcohol
  • Fried food

Just say no! We can help.

Only ONE IN FIVE American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.

First steps to heart health

  • Walk. Yes, walk. You won’t be alone. You’ll see plenty of people walking at work, in their neighborhoods. People are waking up to the importance of walking. Walk fast enough to get your heart rate up. Buy a heart rate monitor and wear it. Just do it!
  • Get 30 minutes of walking daily. Walk the dog. Walk at lunch time. Get 10 minutes here and there. It adds up!
  • Mix it up. Bike, hike, run, swim. Dance. Take the stairs at work. Move, then move some more. Have fun with it. Make it your hobby.
  • Track yourself. Activity tracking apps (like MapMyRun and Endomondo) will record your miles and calorie burn. You’ll get data!
  • Build strength. Weight training builds muscle – and your muscles will burn calories when you’re sitting. You’ll look great, too!
  • Eat right. Lean chicken, salmon, vegetables, olive oil, fruits, nuts (unsalted), whole grains. Find some easy recipes online. You might just enjoy cooking!
  • Cut junk food. Forget those quick stops on the run — the burgers, fries, chips. Avoid the temptation! Take healthy snacks with you – like unsalted nuts and dried cranberries. That can keep you going.
  • Reach for red. Red wine is best for your heart. A beer once in a while is fine. But the goal is to cut sugar – and alcohol is packed with sugar. Truth!
  • Meditate. Just a few minutes daily reduces stress — and has multiple heart-health benefits.
  • Get yourself out there. Healthy lifestyle is the new trend. More people are out walking in neighborhoods these days – even without dogs. Join the ranks of women making these lifestyle changes. They’re doing it so they can live longer. Live to see the kids and grandkids grow up. Live to enjoy all the moments that make life fun. Don’t risk losing all that.
Is it time to speak with a cardiologist about your heart disease risks?
To make an appointment, please call 800.922.0000.