Women experience heart disease very differently than men do. Where a man might have crushing chest pain that indicates a heart attack, a woman may only feel a little nauseated or start sweating. Confusing? Yes, because most of us associate a heart attack or heart disease with crushing chest pain. And yet, for women, the signs of heart disease can be so mild that we ignore them.
What Should Women Watch out For?
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
- Sudden sweating and fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Shoulder or neck pain
- Pain in the left arm
- Chest pain with exercise or activity, especially if it improves with rest
These signs and symptoms could be from any number of different conditions. However, if they persist or they only occur with exercise or activity and then improve with rest, it's time to see your health care provider. Pay attention to any worrisome signs and symptoms and contact your health care provider or get to an Emergency Room.
A Typical Scenario
Most women don't think that this will ever happen to them. They think that because they're too young or too busy, that they can't possibly be having a heart attack. That's the point of this video featuring Elizabeth Banks.
What Tests Should Women be Asking For?
- Baseline Cholesterol screening
- Blood Pressure
- Fasting Glucose
- C-Reactive Protein
What Should We do to Lower our Risks of Heart Disease?
There are some risk factors that are out of our control, such as family history. However, it’s not completely out of your hands. You CAN make small differences that can save your life.
- A healthy diet really does reduce your risk of heart disease.
- One area that always surprises my patients is how eating too many carbs can impact triglyceride levels and lead to higher total cholesterol and LDL.
- Eat more Heart healthy foods: Almonds, oatmeal, wild salmon, whole grains
- Limit Red Meat and high cholesterol foods
- Substitute fish and leaner plant based proteins
- Exercise to maintain a healthy weight
- Stop smoking
If you want to learn more about women and heart disease, please join me and Dr. Catherine Collings at El Camino Hospital on Wednesday, February 6th from 6 to 7:30 pm. We'll be leading a forum with lots more information on women and heart disease and what you can do to live a longer, healthier life.
These events fill up fast, so please RSVP through this link. I hope to see you there.