Is the stereotype of a heart attack a middle aged man, collapsed on the ground clutching his chest? If I’m honest that is what I think of, most of the time. Is Coronary heart disease considered a male disease? What is astounding is the rising number of heart attacks in women. Coronary heart disease is killing more than double the amount of women as breast cancer, or cause 1 in 3 deaths in women each year.
So what actually is a Heart Attack?
Known medically as Myocardial infarction, it is when the blood stops flowing to the heart. A cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, and this happens when the heart stops, blood isn’t pumped around the body, you stop breathing and lose consciousness.
But just to confuse us slightly even more, a heart attack can cause a cardiac arrest. Both are terrifying and are an emergency situation. A recent study in the UK has shown that if a women is having a heart attack, they are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed. There are many symptoms of heart attack, but here are the most common.
Symptoms of a heart attack
- Pressure or pain in the centre of the chest, a feeling of tightness or heaviness
- Shortness of breath and dizziness
- Nausea and light-headedness, cold- sweats
- Pain in both arms that may lead to jaw pain and back pain, even stomach pain
- Sudden feeling of anxiety, feels like a panic attack
- Feeling suddenly tired or exhausted from doing very little
But everyone can experience different symptoms of a heart attack irrespective of whether you are male or female.
There is the sudden tight pain in the chest. But it is women that are more likely to experience a heart attack with out discomfort in the chest, or it may not feel too severe. The symptoms of a heart attack can last a few days.
Heart attacks in women and age
Women with busy lives who tend not to put themselves at the top of the list can easily ignore some of the mild symptoms as just feeling a little unwell or under the weather and carry on with their day. The symptoms of a heart attack are the same in women of all ages too, but did you know that the risk of one is greater after having gone through the menopause?
Even certain contraceptive pills can have a slightly higher risk of causing heart disease, if you are over 35 years old, have a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes and migraines. So ladies, please look after your heart health, it is so important.
If you are over 40 years old you can go and get a Health check from your doctors, it will check your risk of cardiovascular issues. If you have a family history of heart disease go and get yourself checked out. We need to really start looking after ourselves.
Things that can increase the risk of heart attacks
I’m sure we all know about eating healthy and exercising regularly, and of course we know the risks of smoking, obesity and diabetes. But did you know that nicotine metabolises faster in women, causing a bigger risk, as well as smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack, and also that women with diabetes are more at risk than men with diabetes. Does it seem the odds are against us? So how do we lower our risk?
Lower your risk of a heart attack by
- Eating Healthy
- Remain at a healthy weight
- Exercising on a daily basis
- Quit smoking
- Managing your stress levels
These all seem very straight forward and we know to do all of this, but every choice you make on a daily basis can change you risk of heart disease.
Have yourself checked out to see how you blood pressure is, how’s your cholesterol doing, do you know. As I am getting older I am beginning to take my health a lot more seriously, and maybe I wish I had paid more attention to my health in my 20’s, instead of running around and thinking I was invincible.
It does surprise me that a lot of people think of heart disease as more of a male disease, you just don’t hear about women having heart attacks as much men. The statistics are just shocking, 8200 women across England who have died following a heart attack could have been saved if they received the same treatment as men receive and 50% of women are diagnosed incorrectly after suffering a heart attack. Are we that convinced that women don’t suffer from heart problems?
Go get checked!
The aim of this post is not to scare the living daylights out of everyone, but to gain awareness of what seems to be a silent killer. Today we are so much more aware of health, we know how dangerous smoking and drinking too much is. We do take regular exercise or go to the gym. But we only seek medical attention when something is wrong. I think if we had regular check up’s, make sure everything is running smoothly with our bodies, we would have a great peace of mind.
If you ever think you are having a heart attack, call 999 immediately! Try and stay calm, and breathe steadily until help gets to you. Please don’t ignore any of the symptoms that have been mentioned. Don’t ever take a chance on your health, you only get one body, please look after it.