Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer does, however, women seem more frightened about their breast cancer odds. One of the commonly shared myths about heart attacks, heart disease, strokes and other heart health problems is that it is not as widespread among women as it is men.
It is a myth that women do not have the same (if not more) risks than a man does when it comes to the heart. It is also a myth that a heart attack can’t happen to a woman at any age.
Although you can have a heart attack or heart disease without any signs or abnormal lab tests, what you need to know is that as a woman, there are certain risk factors that can target your heart.
- Anxiety, depression and heart disease are common conditions that can often occur together. Research indicates that there is a relationship between these three conditions and it is important that they are addressed as they can impact on your recovery if you have had a cardiac event.
- Maintaining normal blood pressure is as important for a woman’s heart as it for a man’s heart. High blood pressure is a sign that your heart is working too hard.
- Watching your cholesterol level helps protect your heart. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and the food you eat. 1 in 3 women have high blood cholesterol and this can increase the risk of heart disease. Not all cholesterol is bad, it is if your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels are high (the so-called bad cholesterol).
- Get your triglycerides tested. This reading can be a warning sign that all is not well for your heart. The higher these are, the higher the chance of developing heart problems.
- Not keeping your weight at a healthy level increases your chances of heart-related conditions. For a woman, any extra weight around the mid-section is dangerous for the heart. Failing to exercise regularly and living a high stress lifestyle with little time to relax can adversely affect the heart.
- Having diabetes more than triples a woman’s risk of having a heart attack and greatly increases the chances a heart attack will be fatal.
- A lack of rest or prolonged periods of insomnia puts stress on the heart. One of the signs that your heart may not be at optimal health is if you feel fatigued a lot. Fatigue can be a warning sign that your heart isn’t working well and it can be a warning sign of a looming heart attack. If you suffer any unexplained fatigue, then you should be checked out by a doctor.
- Diet – Eat foods that help lower LDL levels. Lots of organic fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The fiber helps to lower the ‘bad cholesterol.’ Beans, legumes and nuts are great too and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Try to avoid butter and too much salt, fast foods, processed foods and cured meat, and foods/drinks high in sugar such as soft drinks and sweetened juices. Avoid drinking too much alcohol
- Quit smoking
Women don’t always get the same heart attack warning signs that men get. For a woman, pressure in the chest does not always occur when a heart attack is happening. Feeling sick to your stomach or having pain between your shoulder blades can be a sign of a heart attack for a woman.
How can you protect your heart? If you are currently a smoker, then take steps to quit. Smoking puts a lot of stress on your heart and can cause heart disease. Lose weight if you are overweight and exercise regularly. Avoid things that can cause your blood pressure to elevate, such as a bad diet and stress.