Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Little boys are made of frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails. Even from the start, little boys and little girls are different. As we grow into adults those differences continue, including how our bodies react to a heart attack.
Heart attack symptoms displayed by men and women are considerably different. When a woman has a heart attack she may experience nausea, overwhelming fatigue and dizziness. Her warning signs of an impending heart attack could include shortness of breath, vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Because these symptoms are often chalked up to stress, women have reported that they have a harder time getting their doctors to recognize these early warning signs. Women also wait longer before seeking medical care. With a heart attack, minutes matter. Seeking help sooner and being proactive about your care can help save heart muscle.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is especially true for women and heart disease. Admittedly, some heart disease risk factors are beyond our control, such as family history and age. After menopause, a woman’s chance of developing heart disease soars because her body’s production of estrogen drops. But you can take an active role in preventing cardiovascular disease by managing your risk factors.
- Don’t smoke
- Lower your cholesterol
- Maintain a normal weight
- Manage your diabetes, if you have the condition
Having even one of the risk factors for heart disease ccan be dangerous. But having multiple risks is even more serious because risk factors tend to intensify the effects of others and increase your chances of developing a heart condition.
If your doctor has prescribed medications, be sure to take them exactly as advised. Tell your doctor if you experience any unpleasant side effects. You may be able to adjust the dosage or change to another medicine. Severe chest pain or blood vessel blockages may be surgically treated by coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft.
Dr. Beyer is a cardiothoracic surgeon at Florida Medical Center.