Did you know that most women have at least one risk that increases her risk of developing heart disease? These include diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and high blood pressure. Needless to say, it’s important for you to be aware of your risk as well as knowledgeable about how heart disease affects women. Here are some common myths about women’s health heart health and the truths you should know:
1. Women don’t get heart disease
Heart disease in women has long been underestimated to the extent that some people believe women simply don’t get heart disease at all. In reality, heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. Additionally, while it is believed that with age only men are susceptible, women over 65 are at a higher risk than their male counterparts.
2. Heart disease doesn’t affect younger women
Despite this misnomer, heart disease is the third highest killer of women ranging from their mid 20’s to their mid 40’s.
3. Heart disease doesn’t affect women who are fit
Just like males, a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet do not make one immune to the possibility of heart complications. In order to ensure everything checks out appropriately, it is recommended to have regular blood work and testing to ensure that there are no early warning signs that may otherwise go undetected.
4. Heart disease always has symptoms
In truth, many people experiencing the early stages of heart disease will have few if any symptoms until the first time that they have a major complication. This can be especially true for women who commonly experience different symptoms than men.
5. Heart attack symptoms are the same for men and women
Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain such as neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort, fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and dizziness. These symptoms can occur in 38 percent of women compared to 27 percent of men
6. You can’t exercise if you have heart disease
This one applies to both men and women. The truth is that those with heart disease are encouraged to physically active as exercise can prevent progression of the disease. However, before you start exercising, make sure your doctor has haven you clearance to do so.
7. Women are more at risk for breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer than they are from heart and vascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is the single most common cause of death among women in the world. Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases compared to all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer.
8. Women are protected from heart attacks by estrogen
According to the American Heart Association, the loss of natural estrogen may increase a woman’s risk of heart attack as she ages but it has not been shown to protect women.
These are just a few of the more common myths about women’s heart health. It is important to recognize that heart disease can affect all people and should be taken seriously regardless of age, fitness level, gender or race.
PULSE: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute provides comprehensive and state-of-the-art care in the areas cardiac, vascular, and structural heart disease to patients in Port Charlotte, Florida and the greater Charlotte county area. In addition to offering general and interventional cardiology services, Dr. Farhan Majeed also specializes in peripheral interventions, structural heart interventions, superficial venous disease and intervention, and non-invasive cardiac and vascular testing. To schedule an appointment, call (941) 629-2111.