Heart disease in women is preventable, and the main step to prevention is simple: education. As you will read below, heart disease has become the number one killer of women. Make it your mission to not only prevent heart disease but to also spread the word to other women.
- What is heart disease?
Heart disease in women comes in many forms and develops over many years. The most common form of heart disease is coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. The plaque is made of cholesterol, calcium, fat and other substances. It builds up over time and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. Eventually, the artery is so narrow is ruptures or becomes completely blocked.
- Heart disease is the number one killer of women.
Heart disease has a history of being a man’s disease. On the contrary, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease kills more women than any form of cancer, including breast cancer. Every hour, one in four women in the U.S. die of heart disease.
- The symptoms of heart disease in women are vague and differ from men.
Typically, men experience an “elephant on the chest,” whereas women can experience little to no chest pain. Sometimes, they will have shortness of breath and feel fatigued. Other signs include flu-like symptoms, including vomiting and nausea, feeling light-headed or dizzy, and pain in the jaw, shoulder and back. A lot of women may ignore the symptoms of heart disease, because most of the symptoms are common experiences.
- What to do if someone is having a heart attack.
It is important to know “time is muscle,” meaning the sooner medical attention is received, the better the outcomes will be. Although the symptoms are not usually distinct, it is better to seek urgent medical assistance than to wait. If someone is having a heart attack, immediately call 9-1-1.
- Heart disease is preventable, not inevitable.
Most women don’t realize heart disease is preventable, and the controllable risks outweigh the uncontrollable risks. Women can control their blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, weight and physical activity. Risk factors women cannot control include family history and age. If women have one of these risk factors, they double their chances of developing heart disease. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and quitting smoking can all drastically reduce the risk of heart disease.
Learn More about Heart Disease in Women
OSF St. Joseph Medical Center has teamed up with the American Heart Association as the exclusive sponsor of Go Red for Women™ in McLean County. We provide a comprehensive page for women’s heart health.
You can find information on heart health classes and events, a quiz to learn your risk for heart disease and more.
Visit our women’s health page to learn more.