Boosting women’s heart health takes more than wearing red – Reading Eagle

Posted: February 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm

When asked to picture someone having a heart attack, many people would imagine a man clutching his chest in sudden pain and dropping to the ground. However, this scenario isnt always accurate. In women, heart attack symptoms are often more subtle.

Women and men differ when it comes to heart health. Its important for women to understand our unique symptoms and cardiovascular concerns, so we can recognize when were at risk and take steps to protect our health.

In the United States, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women, causing one in three deaths each year more than all cancers combined. While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, its often not very severe in women.

In fact, sometimes it may not even be the most noticeable symptom. Women are more likely to experience pain in other areas, such as the neck, jaw, shoulder, arm, upper back or abdomen.

In addition, women frequently experience other symptoms, including shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness, unusual fatigue, indigestion or palpitations. Women also tend to experience symptoms more often at rest, or when asleep, compared to men.

Also, certain heart conditions are exclusive to women. One of those conditions is peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is weakening of the heart muscle during pregnancy or shortly after delivery.

Women and men share many of the same risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart disease and obesity.

However, there are risk factors that affect women specifically. These include postmenopausal state, hormone replacement therapy as well as pregnancy complications like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. Also, inflammatory disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can impact womens cardiovascular risk.

The good news is we have more treatment options now than a decade ago, from heart disease prevention and management to surgical cardiac procedures.

Two recent developments were working with at Tower Health Medical Group are the MitraClip, a percutaneous procedure to treat leaky mitral valve, and the Watchman procedure, which helps prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation who cannot take blood thinning medications.

We can reduce the risk of heart disease by living a healthy lifestyle. Its important to quit smoking, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, manage your stress, limit alcohol intake and take medications as prescribed.

In addition, know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood glucose level and weight. Work with your doctor to understand whats too high or too low and how to keep them within normal range.

When it comes to heart health, time matters. Taking preventive steps now and catching problems early will help. Make sure you schedule an annual wellness visit with your physician. This is the most important step in cardiovascular screening.

During the visit, your physician can review your individual risk factors of heart disease, check weight and blood pressure and discuss screening blood tests. Women with increased cardiac risk may require additional testing or referral to cardiologist.

Be proactive and take control of your health. Not only will it help your heart, but itll boost your overall well-being.

Agnieszka Mochon, M.D., practices cardiology with Tower Health Medical Group.

Boosting women's heart health takes more than wearing red - Reading Eagle

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