Heart Matters: Are Women More Prone to Heart Complications?
We all know women have magnanimous hearts, as they make huge contributions in our lives and while caring for their loved ones, sometimes they go to the extent of even neglecting their health. Surely, they have big hearts, but not literally, a women’s heart is generally smaller in size and even inner chambers are smaller and thinner.
Physiologically there is a significant difference in men and women’s hearts. Apart from differences in appearance, they differ in their ability to pump blood and their reaction to external factors such as stress, etc.
It has been observed that a women’s heart pumps faster than a man, though it is faster, due to its size it pumps about 10% less blood per pump cycle. As for the reaction to other factors such as stress, their pulse rate rises and the heart pumps more blood, whereas in the same condition man’s blood pressure rises but due to constriction of arteries in the heart.
Why are we discussing the size and functionality of Heart comparatively in men and WOMEN? Because as we have observed, it also influences the heart health of women differently than men.
Most women are not aware about the symptoms of coronary artery diseases that occur specifically in women and how they differ from symptoms of heart problems in men. So it becomes necessary to spread awareness regarding the specific risks, symptoms, etc. that exclusively affect women. So they can take care of their hearts effectively.
Risks Specific to Women
Certain diseases that women suffer from can raise the risk of coronary artery disease such as endometriosis, which raises the risk of coronary artery disease by almost 400% in women under the age of 40. There are other health conditions which also affect the women’s heart condition such as polycystic ovary disease, diabetes, high blood pressure due to pregnancy, etc.
Apart from women-specific diseases, they are also at risk of general health problems that have a negative effect on heart health. High blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, smoking, obesity, or history of heart problems in the family, etc. are some risk factors that affect both genders equally.
The risk to a women’s heart does not end here, it has been noted that a heart attack might affect a woman significantly more than a man. This means they take longer to recover post-treatment and might require longer hospital stays. The mortality rate has also been recorded as higher in comparison to men. This might be due to the higher rate of untreated comorbidities in women such as diabetes or high blood pressure etc. as women might downplay their symptoms.
Not only are women at higher risk of coronary artery problems, but sometimes it is also hard to diagnose them. As coronary artery disease often affects the small arteries in women which are hard to record in angiogram and this might lead to a faulty diagnosis. Also, fatty tissue and breast tissue attenuation on cardiac imaging can lead to false alarms. This makes it important for women to consult cardiologists who have experience in women’s heart health matters. Cardiology Department, Metro Hospitals have a team of experts with decades of experience in handling such cases and have effectively delivered a higher rate of patient outcomes.
Unique heart symptoms that women experience
Same as the risk factors, apart from the general symptoms of heart problems, certain symptoms are unique in women.
Men experience chest pain and crushing weight on the chest when they suffer a heart attack. Women too experience similar symptoms but more often they experience subtler symptoms for a few weeks before a heart attack. Women suffering from heart attack describe it as pressure or tightness rather than experiencing severe pain the chest
Before a heart attack men usually experience pain in the left arm, women may experience pain in either arm. Most common heart attack symptoms are same, however, there are some symptoms which may be unique to women with heart problems, such as:
- Pain or uneasiness in Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, or abdomen.
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in one or both arms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Unusual fatigue
As stated women may feel vague or not so noticeable symptoms before heart attacks, as they are prone to have blockages in small arteries that supply blood to heart, this condition is known as small vessel heart disease or coronary microvascular disease.
Lifestyle changes for a Healthy Heart
Now, the situation is not all gloomy and depressed, the reason to highlight the risks of heart problems in women is to raise awareness so that necessary precautions can be taken for a healthy heart and healthy life.
So the question is what should women do to reduce the risk of heart disease? For that few positive changes in lifestyle and food habits can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Regular Physical Activity: Moderate exercise or alternative physical activities like walking, cycling, etc. can help strengthen your heart and reduce fat.
- Opt for a healthy diet. Add whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products. A high amount of saturated or trans fats, sugars, salts should be avoided.
- Manage stress. Stress can cause tightening of arteries, which can increase your risk of heart disease, most commonly coronary micro-vascular disease.
- Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol leads to a rise in blood pressure and increases the chance of heart diseases.
- Keep Track of Comorbidities: Precautions should be taken to reduce High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as they increase the risk of heart disease.
- Quit smoking. It can cause damage to blood vessels.
If one follows a healthy lifestyle chance of heart problems or any other health problem reduces drastically. As we live in a time where certain scenarios such as pollution, radiation, stress, etc. are unavoidable, it is necessary to keep track of one’s health condition by regularly going for routine check-ups as even if one is affected by some heart problem, they can seek early treatment and this can greatly help in their recovery.
We at Metro Group of Hospitals are always here to help you!
Metro Group of Hospitals