If you are a woman, you should know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. But, generally, we have a misconception that men are commonly affected by heart disease as against women. In the United States, studies show that every year more women die out of heart disease as compared to men.
If you like most other women, you might probably be busy taking care of every other person in your family. You have your health concerns in the final place in your preference list. But, you should take care of your heart’s health. You should recommend this to other women around you as well.
In the case of women, heart disease strikes at the later part of the life, but it can also happen early. Certain things force you into the risk factor for heart disease. Yes, some things are specific to women like hormones and menopause. You should know about CAD or Coronary Heart Disease and its symptoms.
What is Coronary Heart Disease?
This is the most common type of the heart disease in women. This condition develops when your coronary arteries become diseased or damaged. These are arteries that work as fuel lines for supplying oxygen and blood to the heart. This happens when a sticky substance called atherosclerosis or plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries.
Due to plaque build-up, if your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed down, your heart will get a lesser supply of blood and oxygen. In some instances, the plaque might burst, thereby wholly and suddenly be blocking the supply of blood to the heart. CAD or Coronary Artery Disease can lead to problems in the rhythm of your heart, heart failure, heart attack and chest pain.
As against men, these things happen in women without any indication of obstructive coronary artery disease. This makes not just the diagnosis, but also the treatment hard in women.
When Does CAD Develop in Women?
Similar to men, women are also likely to develop CAD. However, as compared to men, this condition will occur 7-10 years later in life in the case of women. Menopause is identified as the primary contributor that increases in the following risk factors that lead to CAD in women:
- Change in the cholesterol profile. This means that an increase in the LDL and triglycerides level and a reduction in the HDL, which is common in women after menopause.
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes is known to triple the risk factor of CAD in women, while it doubles the risk factor in the case of men with diabetes.
- Weight gain, particularly, excess fat content in the midsection or waist area.
How are Women Different From Men in CAD?
As compared to men, women tend to:
- Have subtle and different symptoms for CAD
- Have no definite signs of obstructions in the three major coronary arteries on tests. But, there will be a reduction in the flow of blood to the heart muscles.
- Have dysfunction or obstructions in smaller arteries. But, men develop plaque in larger arteries that surround the heart.
- Be treated less forcefully as compared to men
Symptoms of CAD in Women:
Studies show that the symptoms of women are less likely to be identified as something related to heart disease. The symptoms can be different for women. However, they can notice some signs when they have a close watch:
- Nausea, fatigue, sweating, dizziness, irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath
- A burning sensation in the upper abdomen or chest
- Pressure or pain in the chest that travels to the jaw or arm
- Angina, heartburn, palpitations are also symptoms experienced by some women.
The most commonly registered symptoms are unusual fatigue, anxiety, indigestion, shortness of breath and sleep disturbances. In fact, most women experience any of these symptoms at least for one month before they get a heart attack. So, if any of these symptoms are experienced, it is better to seek medical help right away.