Rather than being one condition, heart disease is a term that covers a number of health concerns that all affect the heart. These conditions can affect the rhythm of the heart’s beat, malfunctions or malformations of the structures in the heart, and blockages in the blood vessels. Some forms of heart disease actually begin in the womb, while others are the result of medical conditions of poor health. Heart disease has a reputation as being one of the leading killers of men, but less well known is that 25% of all deaths in women can be attributed to heart disease as well.
Heart Disease In Women: Signs, Symptoms, And Risks
Heart disease starts early, with nearly 6% of all women over 20 having some degree of coronary heart or coronary artery disease. As we reach our later years, our risk of heart disease continues to grow. Generally, the presence of these conditions is asymptomatic, meaning that the first indicator of its presence is an emergency situation, such as a heart attack. In those women who do experience early symptoms, the following is usually observed:
- Discomfort in the chest is known as angina. It can be dull and heavy or sharp
- Throat, neck, or jaw pain
- Upper abdomen pain
- Generalized sense of weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Skin color changes, especially gray skin
These symptoms can appear at any time as part of your day-to-day activities. In addition to being signs that you may have heart disease, they can also be symptoms that you’re presently experiencing a heart attack. As your heart disease becomes more severe, there are other symptoms that can begin to appear. Which type of symptoms appear to depend on the type of heart disease you’re experiencing.
- Heart Disease – This condition is also known as heart and blood disease and typically involves atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis describes the build-up of plaque on the interior of the arteries, restricting blood flow. Should a blood clot form, it can block the flow of blood entirely.
- Heart Attack – When the blood flow is completely blocked, the heart muscle connected to the blocked artery begins to die. The majority of people survive the first heart attack, but lifestyle changes become necessary to avoid future ones.
- Stroke – An ischemic stroke is the result of a blood vessel that delivers blood to the brain getting blocked, resulting in the death of brain cells. This can result in losing the ability to talk or walk. A hemorrhagic stroke is the result of a blood vessel bursting in the brain, typically as the result of high blood pressure.
Get Help Ensuring That Your Heart Remains Healthy Throughout Your Life
Are you concerned about heart disease and want help from your women’s health provider to protect yourself? Reach out to your specialist and get an exam to determine your current state of health and determine if steps are needed to improve your overall health. It’s best to get started before you start experiencing any symptoms of heart disease so you can live a long and healthy life.