Celebrate Heart Month by Protecting the Women You Love

February 20, 2015

Women’s heart attack symptoms are different – and often silent. As mothers, daughters, volunteers and friends, women fulfill roles that require caring for those around them, often putting the needs of others before their own. February is American Heart Month – a great time to celebrate the women you love and encourage them to care for their own health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, responsible for one in four female deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). While heart disease is often associated with men, coronary heart disease (CHD), the most common type of heart disease, is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States.

Heart disease is a silent killer of women. Nearly two-thirds of women who die of CHD have no prior symptoms. Sometimes a heart attack occurs without warning; other times symptoms are triggered by physical activity or stress. Those women who do experience symptoms often do not recognize that they are signs of a heart attack, as the warning signs for women are different than the more well-known warning signs men experience. Protect yourself or the woman in your life by knowing the warning signs and symptoms women may experience before a heart attack:

  • Sharp, burning chest pain
  • Fluttering in the chest (also known as arrhythmia)
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, abdomen or throat
  • Upper back pain
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Upper body discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen

Women and Heart Disease 

Not only are women’s heart attack symptoms different, but also, certain heart diseases are more likely to affect women, such as coronary microvascular disease (MVD) and broken heart syndrome. These lesser-known heart diseases are just as deadly, and share common symptoms with CHD.

Coronary MVD, also known as cardiac syndrome X or non-obstructive CHD, damages the walls of the heart’s tiny arteries. Researchers believe that the drop in estrogen levels during menopause, along with other heart disease factors, is a primary reason that women are more likely to have the disease.

Broken heart syndrome is heart muscle failure caused by extreme emotional stress. Also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome is often misdiagnosed as a heart attack because it has similar symptoms. However, broken heart syndrome does not involve blocked arteries and patients usually make a full recovery.

You can lower the risk of heart disease by knowing heart attack symptoms and practicing good preventive habits: exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, avoiding smoking, and controlling your blood pressure.

As, a Chest Pain Center accredited by the Society for Cardiovascular Patient Care Teche Regional Medical Center has committed to a higher standard of care for emergency cardiac services, continual quality improvement in heart care, and providing the community education and resources to help keep your heart healthy. If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of a heart attack, contact 911 immediately or proceed to the nearest emergency room or Accredited Chest Pain Center.

To learn more, visit us at www.techeregional.com or call us at 985-384-2200.