How to Prevent Heart Disease in Women
It’s been estimated that one of the main causes of mortality in women is heart disease. Although it’s true that it affects both genders equally, women have some particular characteristics that must be taken into account and that can help prevent them. Would you like to know more?
Heart disease is not just a male thing. In fact, the World Health Organization indicates that cardiovascular diseases are the ones that cause the most deaths in women. What can we do? What changes should we make in our lifestyle to prevent these diseases?
The heart diseases that most affect women
If you suffer the symptoms of any of the following diseases, the most urgent measure is to consult a doctor or cardiologist to make a diagnosis and indicate the treatment to be followed.
Arteriosclerosis results from an accumulation of tissue and cholesterol that gradually obstructs the arteries, which are responsible for transporting blood to the heart. Over time, not only do they become stiff, but they barely leave room for blood to enter.
As a result, blood flow is much less, and eventually, the heart suffers what is called ischemia. If the blood doesn’t reach the heart, it will lead to a heart attack.
What are the symptoms of heart disease in women?
The problem for women is that sometimes heart problems are confused with other things. While men may feel a sudden pain in the left arm, women suffer the symptoms of heart disease in a more diffuse way: dizziness, extreme tiredness, back, neck, or stomach pain, among other symptoms.
According to popular belief, an important sign is to look at the veins in the neck. If, in addition to a swelling of the ankles, the neck veins swell, it’s said that it’s necessary to see a doctor quickly. In any case, don’t hesitate to consult a cardiologist if you’re at risk and are displaying any of these signs.
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2. Broken heart syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy
This disease is more common in women than in men. It’s associated with a very high level of emotional stress. Work, home, children, and even caring for a sick family member all cause women to experience intense stress.
In this cardiomyopathy, what happens is that the left ventricle of the heart is overstimulated and swells, resulting in a small dysfunction. It’s not fatal in all cases, nor is it as serious as a heart attack, but it must be taken into account in order to detect it in time and treat it. In general, it has a good prognosis.
What symptoms does it have in women?
The symptoms are very similar to a heart attack. You should pay attention to your general condition. Do you feel exaggerated tiredness and do not know why? Do you feel nauseous and do your stomach and upper abdomen hurt? If so, and you’re also going through a very stressful time, see your doctor.
Heart disease in menopause
The relationship between heart disease and menopause is very close. We have to remember that estrogen in women has an excellent function: by regulating blood cholesterol levels – among other tasks – it protects people against heart disease.
However, when menopause arrives and estrogen levels drop, scientific research confirms that there are certain circumstances that increase cardiovascular risk. For example, changes appear in the walls of the blood vessels, they harden, atherosclerotic plaques form, and blood clots can appear.
Likewise, as previously mentioned, changes in cholesterol also begin. Mainly, what happens is that the so-called ‘bad cholesterol‘ (LDL) rises.
Heart attacks in women are different than in men
The arrival of menopause causes changes in women that make them more vulnerable to heart disease. The drop in estrogen levels is a determining factor in these changes.
Women are more likely to develop heart disease at menopause. However, the most important of all is that, according to studies, there are women who have a slower recovery after suffering a heart attack due to emotional factors.
One of the aggravating factors is that women tend to take longer to recognize the symptoms and go to the doctor. It’s common to associate tiredness, muscle pain, or stomach discomfort with other diseases without knowing that it’s the heart that’s asking for help.
Preventing heart disease in women
Below, we’re also going to list some habits that, according to science and in general terms, contribute to improving a person’s wellbeing. If you suffer from a specific condition or chronic disease, it’s best to consult a doctor.
- Eat fruits and vegetables every day: tTry to eat several pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. Avoid packaged vegetables, as they’re salted. A good alternative is to steam vegetables and dress them with olive oil.
- Limit your salt consumption, as it’s been proven to be counterproductive for cardiovascular health.
- Grains – and even better, whole grains – especially rice, wheat, and rye – are key for good health.
- Nuts: Experts recommend regular consumption of nuts, as they promote cardiovascular health.
- Consume more fish and reduce your consumption of red meat: Sardines, mackerel, tuna, and salmon have healthy omega 3. It’s therefore advisable to reduce your intake of red meat and increase your consumption of this type of fish.
- Avoid smoking and reduce or eliminate the consumption of alcohol and sugary drinks.
- Try to eat five meals a day, a good breakfast, a light dinner, and avoid snacking between meals. Remember that these are general guidelines. For precise guidelines for your diet, consult a nutritionist.
- Watch your blood pressure.
- Watch your blood sugar levels.
- Exercise at least half an hour a day; this is the WHO recommendation in this regard.
- Have regular medical check-ups, especially if you’re overweight or if you have an advanced age.
- Take care of your emotional life, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Finally, we’d like to remind you that these are key points for the general population and that your needs may vary according to your state of health. Identifying any discomfort or pain in time will help you to go to the doctor as soon as possible and prevent any major complications.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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