Our society associates gender with certain health issues which can cause confusion when It comes to women and heart disease. You may be shocked at what you’ll learn about this “silent killer” and how it’s made an impact on women’s heart health throughout the years.
Learn the truth behind common heart disease myths below!
Myth: Men should be more concerned about heart disease than women.
Fact: For over 35 years, cardiovascular disease has claimed the lives of more women than it has men – and the difference of the survival rate between both genders is steadily growing. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.
Myth: Heart disease only affects older people.
Fact: Almost 45% of women 20 years of age and above currently have some form of heart disease. According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among women of all races, origins, and ages.
Myth: Cancer affects women more than heart disease.
Fact: Research shows that every year 1 out of 31 women die from breast cancer in the U.S., however 1 out of 3 women die of heart disease. Additionally, African American women have a much higher chance of dying from heart disease and typically develop high blood pressure more frequently than other races, much earlier.
Shockingly, 90% of women have one or more risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
The risk factors to be aware of include:
- Family history of premature heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Gestational diabetes or preeclampsia
Myth: Heart disease is only caused by genetics.
Fact: Although heart disease can be inherited, genetics aren’t the only way heart disease can be developed. Unhealthy lifestyle habits can contribute to cardiovascular disease as well.
Healthy habits women can practice for prevention are:
- Remain physically active, 150 minutes of cardio activity is suggested weekly
- Understand your family’s medical history
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep up with your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels
- Eat a nutritious balanced diet focusing on plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains
- Avoid smoking
Myth: I am not experiencing chest pain so I must be fine
Fact: As it turns out, heart disease symptoms in women and men are vastly different. Typically, when cardiac or stroke events come to mind, most associate them with unbearable pain in the chest.
However, women who experience symptoms of heart disease may have:
- Jaw discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting and queasiness
Other symptoms of heart disease in women include:
- Lower chest or upper abdomen extreme discomfort
- Fainting or being lightheaded
Health education, blood pressure management, and positive lifestyle habits can prevent most cardiac events and strokes. If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above or are concerned about your heart health, please don’t wait to contact your primary care provider. An annual physical helps to maintain your health, prevent illnesses and disease, and brings your overall care up-to-date.
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