How to Prevent Cardiac Diseases in Women

February 12, 2015
Women are more susceptible to heart attacks than men - find out how to detect them.

One of the main causes of death in women is cardiac disease. Although it’s true that it affects both genders equally, women have particular characteristics that you should keep in mind, and which may help you prevent cardiac diseases in women. Would you like to find out more?

Cardiac diseases aren’t just something for men. Research shows that they are rising in women too. Every 90 seconds, a woman suffers from a heart attack in a western country. What can we do about it? What changes should you make in your lifestyle to prevent cardiac diseases?

Cardiac diseases that affect women more

Atherosclerosis

A diagram of unhealthy arteries.

  • It is definitely the most common disease in women. It happens because of an accumulation in the tissue and cholesterol that, little by little, obstructs the arteries, which are in charge of transporting blood to the heart.
  • Over time, they not only become rigid but also barely leave any space for blood to enter. Far less blood reaches the heart, and it suffers what we know as an ischemia. If blood doesn’t get to the heart, you’ll suffer from a heart attack. You must keep this in mind.

Read more: Six Home Remedies to Clean the Artery Walls

What symptoms do women have?

  • The problem that women have is that cardiac problems can sometimes be confused with other things. While men may feel a subtle pain in their left arm, women have symptoms of a cardiac disease in a much more widespread way: dizziness, extreme fatigue, back pain, neck pain…
  • Another important sign is seen when looking at your neck veins. If your ankles are swollen and your neck veins are also swollen, immediately see your doctor.

Broken heart syndrome or cardiomyopathy from stress

A jigsaw of a broken heart.

  • It’s definitely one of the most characteristic cardiac diseases in women. It is associated with a very strong emotional stress level, and it’s common in women who have daily lives full of responsibilities and obligations. Work, home, children, and even taking care of a sick family member. All of this makes stress have a much more intense impact on them.
  • In cardiomyopathy, what happens is that left ventricle of the heart is overstimulated and swollen, which causes a slight dysfunction. It isn’t fatal in every case, nor is it as serious as a heart attack, but you have to keep it in mind in order to know about it, and be able to treat it in time.

See also: Broken Heart Syndrome or Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

What symptoms do women have?

  • The symptoms are very similar to a heart attack. You should be aware of your overall health. Are you extremely tired and don’t know why? Do you have nausea and pain in your stomach and low part of your abdomen? If so, and you are also going through a very stressful time period, see your doctor.

How are cardiac disease and menopause related?

The relation is very close. To consider this, we have to think about the estrogen in women, which helps to protects them from cardiac diseases. But when you go through menopause and the level of estrogen drops, the following happens:

  • Changes in the walls of blood vessels. They harden, atherosclerotic plaques form, and blood clots appear.
  • Cholesterol changes. Bad cholesterol, known as LDL, increases.
  • A substance called fibrinogen increases, which causes blood to clot as well, increasing the risk of heart attacks and brain hemorrhages.

Heart attacks in women are different

How to prevent cardiac diseases in women.

  • As we saw before, the arrival of menopause causes changes in you that makes you vulnerable to cardiac diseases. The decrease in estrogen levels is a determinant factor in these changes happening.
  • The probabilities of developing a cardiac disease in women increases during menopause. But the most important part of all, is that, according to studies, women have a more difficult recovery after suffering from a heart attack. This is because they generally tend to take longer to recognize the symptoms and see a doctor.
  • They associate fatigue with other things, muscle or stomach pain with other diseases, without knowing that it is their heart that is asking for help.

Prevent cardiac diseases in women

A woman sleeping outside.

Lifestyle changes

  • Eat fruit and vegetables every day. Try to eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day, plus orange or lemon juice. Avoid canned vegetables because they contain salt. We recommend steaming vegetables and seasoning with olive oil.
  • Limit salt.
  • Grains should be whole: especially rice, wheat, and rye.
  • Nuts: experts recommend eating nuts regularly. These will help your cardiovascular health. Three walnuts for breakfast is a good start.
  • More fish and less red meat: sardines, mackerel, tuna, and salmon have healthy Omega-3. Therefore, you should reduce the amount of red meat you eat and increase the amount of fish.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and sugary beverages.
  • Always eat five meals a day: a good breakfast, a light dinner, and avoid snacking between meals.
  • Take care of your blood pressure.
  • Take care of your blood sugar levels.
  • Do an hour of exercise a day.
  • Avoid gaining weight.
  • Get periodic check-ups.
  • And, above all, take care of your emotional life by reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Taggu, W., & Lloyd, G. (2007). Treating cardiovascular disease in women. Menopause International. https://doi.org/10.1258/175404507783004104
  • Gonzalez, E., Moore, E. E., & Moore, H. B. (2016). Fibrinogen. In Trauma Induced Coagulopathy. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28308-1_5