04 Feb 2016
What Every Woman Should Know About Cardiovascular Disease
Many women think that heart disease is just for men. Nothing could be further from the truth. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. In fact, after age 50, nearly half of all deaths in women are due to some form of cardiovascular disease.
Once a woman reaches menopause, her risk for heart disease increases dramatically. And younger women who have undergone early menopause or have had a hysterectomy (and don’t take estrogen) also have higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke in women. Knowing these may save your life or the life of someone you love.
It’s easy for women to miss early symptoms of a heart attack because they’re subtler than those in men. Getting help quickly is critical and minutes can mean life or death, so it’s a good idea for all women to be aware of the warning signs of heart attacks.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
Signs of a Heart Attack:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and take an aspirin (unless you’re allergic).
Stroke is the #3 cause of death in America and can result in severe, long-term disability.
The only thing people are more afraid of is public speaking.
Stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack) happen when a blood vessel feeding the brain gets clogged or bursts. The signs of a TIA are like a stroke, but usually last only a few minutes. If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help (AND DO NOT TAKE ASPIRIN).
Call 9-1-1 to get help fast if you have any of these, but remember that not all of these warning signs occur in every stroke.
Signs of Stroke and TIA
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. It’s very important to take immediate action. Research from the American Heart Association has shown that if given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
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