When we think of heart attacks, many of us consider it a male problem. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in the UK, heart disease and heart failure both ranked in the top ten leading causes of death for women in 2012. What’s more, in women under age 50, heart attacks are twice as lethal than among men in the same age group. The Lifesaver Education blog also mentions that the chances of sudden cardiac arrest increases for women living near major roads.
These statistics are frightening, and they demand a fresh perspective on how women view heart attacks. Thankfully, we can change how we think about heart health, which can help save our lives and the lives of women we love.
Keep reading for tips on recognizing the signs of a heart attack, as well as preventing heart disease and promoting overall health and quality of life.
Did you know that the signs of a heart attack can differ according to sex?
What Causes a Heart Attack?
Heart attacks are caused by the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries. This buildup can block blood flow to the heart, leading to heart attack or heart failure. Plaque buildup can be caused by a number of factors, each of which significantly increases the risks associated with heart attack. A few of these risk factors include the following:
Family history of heart disease.
- Physical inactivity.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Leading a high-stress lifestyle.
Recognizing the Signs of a Heart Attack
Did you know that the signs of a heart attack can differ according to sex? It’s true! While chest pain and shortness of breath are universal signs of a heart attack, many women experience symptoms like the following:
- Pain in the jaw.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Pain in one or both arms.
- Back pain.
- Abdominal pain.
What To Do if You Recognize the Signs of a Heart Attack
In the event of a heart attack, acting quickly is crucial. If you experience one or more heart attack symptoms, call 999 or 112 immediately. Don’t attempt to drive yourself to a hospital; instead, sit or lie down, and wait for emergency personnel. If possible, chew one aspirin tablet while you wait. If you recognize the signs of heart in someone else, take the following steps:
- Dial 999 or 112 immediately.
- Have the person sit or lie, comfortably, and loosen or remove restrictive clothing.
- If aspirin is handy, have the person chew one tablet.
- If the person stops breathing, or you can’t find a pulse, CPR is necessary. If you don’t know CPR, learning now may one day save a life.
Preventing Heart Disease and Heart Attack
There are a number of ways you can improve heart health and prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Lifestyle changes like the following can help protect your heart, enhance longevity and improve overall quality of life:
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing weight can drastically improve the health of your heart. Talk to your doctor about a diet and exercise regimen that will help you lose weight, safely and effectively.
- Manage stress. Since stress can contribute heart disease, learning to manage it is essential to health. A few great ways to beat stress include exercise, meditation and deep breathing techniques.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is detrimental to health in more ways than one. Stop now, and experience significant improvements to health and wellness.
- Diet and exercise. Even if you’re a healthy weight, a vitamin-rich, high-fiber diet, low in trans fats and simple carbohydrates, can improve cardiovascular health and help prevent heart disease and other complications. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three or four times per week.
Heart health is a serious issue for women of all ages. And while the statistics are frightening, there are steps we can take in protecting ourselves. With the information provided here, women can learn to recognize the signs of a heart attack, act quickly in a heart-health emergency, and improve health and quality of life.
By Ashley Andrews