Heart disease, medically known as cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels) is a term encompassing several heart problems, including coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, heart valve disease, abnormal heart rhythm, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Heart Disease in Women

For a long time and until recently, heart disease was believed to be a disease primarily affecting men. However, that is not true. Heart disease affects women as well. 

There are differences in how heart disease symptoms manifest in men and women, and thus women may not know what signs to look out for. This may be because women typically have smaller blood vessels.

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women

Women:

  • May not have any symptoms of heart disease until an emergency such as a heart attack.

  • Are less likely to experience chest pain.

  • Are less likely to show symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD).

  • May experience different symptoms for heart diseases, such as: 

    • Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat

    • Pain in the upper abdomen or back

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

    • Dizziness

    • Fatigue

    • Stomach pain or indigestion

    • Sweating

  • May experience angina (chest tightening and pain) during normal daily activities rather than due to physical exertion.

  • Are more likely to develop heart disease that has fewer apparent symptoms, such as microvascular disease (narrowing of the small blood vessels that branch off the coronary arteries). 

Risk Factors For Heart Disease in Women

The risk factors for heart disease in women include:

  • Genetics

  • Diabetes 

  • Obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Smoking

  • Lack of physical activity 

  • Lack of sleep

  • Menopause 

  • Mental stress and depression

  • Pregnancy complications

  • Family history of heart disease 

  • Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis

Preventive Tips For Heart Disease in Women

The treatment for heart disease depends on the type of disease, its stage, and other health conditions a person may have. Treatment may involve a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, medications, and medical procedures including surgery.

In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to reduce the risk of heart disease.  Let’s have a look at some tips for preventing heart disease in women. 

1. Eat a balanced diet. Avoid trans fats and limit your intake of saturated fats, salt, and refined sugar. Add fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy foods such as salmon, berries, nuts, and olive oil to your diet.

2. Exercise regularly. It is important to exercise on a regular basis to keep your heart functioning optimally and to prevent excessive weight gain, as obesity is a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Control other diseases affecting your health. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can lead to heart disease if not managed. If you have a chronic condition that could affect your heart, follow your doctor’s recommendations to control it. 

4. Get a heart health checkup. It can help identify heart problems that present no symptoms before you end up having a heart attack or stroke. Most importantly, monitor your blood pressure regularly. 

5. Limit alcohol intake and stop smoking. Smoking is a major cause of atherosclerosis, which can lead to a heart attack. Excessive drinking can also increase your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. Stay away from these habits. 

6. Seek help for your mental health issues. Manage your stress levels by finding healthy ways of coping with the stress. Consult a mental health professional if you are showing symptoms of issues such as anxiety and depression. 

Strive to live a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. Do not underestimate the risk of heart disease, even if you feel otherwise healthy. Watch out for any early signs and seek medical help promptly.


Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.