Despite what most may believe, heart attacks are more than just an affliction that strikes the elderly and overweight. Seemingly healthy individuals can still fall victim to a faltering ticker, and statistics show that lifestyle does play a significant part in determining the actual risk. While it does affect both sexes, women tend to be at a higher risk while at the same time exhibiting slightly different symptoms than men.
Heart attacks are typically caused by coronary heart diseases and occur when a part of the heart fails to receive sufficient blood. When this happens, the heart basically goes into a “panic” mode and stops functioning, which can lead to tissue damage around the heart. The feeling is very similar to that of a heartburn, but having more dire consequences.
Amongst adults who are under 56 years old, women may be likelier to experience lesser-known acute heart attack symptoms than men. In particular, women have a tendency to experience more additional non-chest pain symptoms, unexplained fatigue, heartburn, shortness of breath, which may be disregarded or misunderstood. Since these symptoms do not directly point to heart diseases, women may not even realise that they are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
To exacerbate things, menopause can also trigger similar symptoms such as cold sweats, racing heartbeat or pains in the body. In addition, women may also be at a higher risk if they take birth control pills, have poor stress management or smoke. The risk is increased after menopause as well, when oestrogen levels drop and LDL cholesterol levels increase.
Left unaddressed, these symptoms can turn into a series of complications, such as to arrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat, heart rupture and even heart failure. Statistics also reveal that young women possess a higher risk of mortality when hospitalised with a heart attack. They are also at a higher risk of having a history of diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic lung disease.
Ultimately, some measure of prevention is always better than a cure. Regardless of your gender, make it a point to go for annual full health check-ups and be aware of your family’s health history – it can be a good indicator of just how much at risk you are. Not only will this aid in early detection, but it can also make the subsequent treatment process a lot more effective and efficient. Last but certainly not the least, lead an active lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight and body composition through proper nutrition. A healthy heart is a strong heart!