Heart disease is common with the women in my family. It makes me more vigilant with my own health. All women face the threat of heart disease. But becoming aware of symptoms and risks unique to women, as well as eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising, can help protect you.
Although heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, more women than men die of heart disease each year. One challenge is that some heart disease symptoms in women may be different from those in men.The most common heart attack symptom in women is some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. But it’s not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. And, sometimes, women may have a heart attack without chest pains. 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
Shortness of breath
Right arm pain
Nausea or vomiting
Lightheadedness or dizziness
These symptoms can be more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks.
Many women don’t realize aging makes heart disease likelier. To combat this problem, teams from Brookdale senior living communities nationwide are fanning out to personally alert women 65 and over to their increased risk and provide resources to fight it. The company hopes to reach 10,000 older women through “10,000 Heart to Hearts,” beginning Feb. 1.
“Cardiac disease kills more women than all cancers combined,” said Brookdale chief medical officer Kevin O’Neil, M.D., F.A.C.P. “On average, women develop heart disease 10 years later than men, with their first heart attack occurring at age 70.”