February is Heart Disease Awareness Month: Did You Know Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women?

By January 30, 2009July 7th, 2018Fitness

Almost every minute a women dies from heart disease, according to The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

One of the most alarming facts about this statistic is that many don’t know that women’s symptoms of a heart attack are different than men’s. How many deaths could be avoided each year if people knew what symptoms to watch out for?

According to the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health web site, in addition to the well-known heart attack symptoms, women may also experience some of the following sensations or feelings:

  • Extreme fatigue despite adequate sleep
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of sleep
  • Chest problems such as an ache, heaviness, tightness or burning feeling
  • Pain between the shoulders
  • Chest pains or tightness that extends to other areas like the jaw, neck, shoulders, ear, or the inside of the arms
  • Belly pain – above the navel

Not only are the symptoms different for the two genders but women also have additional disorders and conditions that increase their vulnerability for heart disease.

While some factors remain the same (overweight, inactive, diabetes and smoking), the Mayo Clinic’s web site describes some of the female-specific conditions that can trigger heart disease:

  • Menopause/ pre-existing heart disease combined with menopausal hormone treatments
  • Birth control usage combined with smoking
  • Stress (while also a factor for men stress is harder on a woman’s heart)
  • Depression

Even though heart attack symptoms and risk factors can differ in women there are certain prevention steps that remain the same for both genders:

1.) Lose weight.

Obesity is one of the most significant risk factors in developing cardiovascular disease. The more weight your body carries the harder your heart has to work. For discover your risks of developing heart disease and what you can do about it, visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/recommen.htm

2.) Get active.

Men and women alike need to exercise often. And a key to consistent physical activity is finding something you enjoy doing that gives your heart a good workout and fits into your everyday life.

A growing number of women have found the ideal answer in electric bikes, with National Sales increasing 67% in the US alone. Electric bikes like the US manufactured Optibike are a terrific way to get out of your car and ride more for a healthier heart, without sweating.  After all, the key to exercise is actually doing it and with an electric bike exercise is fun.

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3.) Stop smoking.

It seems like a no-brainer but there are still people out there puffin’ away on their cancer sticks. Quitting smoking has been shown to add years to your life. It’s especially dangerous for women who use oral contraceptives. Need help quitting? Your answers at http://www.everydayhealth.com/publicsite/index.aspx?puid=85ecca05-ddb7-4193-9cd7-6983498540a6&p=2

4.) Prevent diabetes.

Diabetes is dangerous as a disease by itself but it has also been medically linked to an increase risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Preventing or treating diabetes is one of the smartest, heart-healthiest decisions you can make. Discover more about the connection between diabetes and heart health at http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/pubs/complications_heart/index.htm#4

5.) Relax.

More studies show that stress really does harm your mind and your health. And heart disease is no exception. Greater amounts of stress increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. While high levels of stress are hard on everyone, they are particularly dangerous to women. The American Heart Association has more details http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4750

Almost everyone is affected by heart disease today whether it’s a family member, yourself or a loved one. And since women are affected differently it’s important to know those differences and take preventative measures today. These are five suggestions women (and men) can take to stave off heart disorders and maintain a longer, healthier life.

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