These 3 things women should take to heart | health and fitness

Robert Preidt

SATURDAY, February 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — February is American Heart Month — the perfect time to remind women of three things they need to know about heart disease.

It is that main cause of death among US women responsible for one in three deaths, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). While progress has been made over the past 20 years in reducing this rate, improvement in risk factors and mortality rates among women under 50 has been slow.

That’s why the AHA urges women to do three things: recognize the signs of a heart attack; understand their risk factors for heart disease; and making healthy lifestyle changes to help prevent heart disease.

Number 1: Know that the symptoms of a heart attack can be different in men and women. Chest pain is the leading symptom in both, but it may not be the only or predominant symptom in women, says Dr. Rekha Mankad, cardiologist and director of the Mayo Clinic Women’s Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

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“There’s chest pain, but you don’t want to bend. The pain can be in the jaw, radiate to the back, or go up the neck. A woman may have shortness of breath, feel nauseous, or break out in a sweat,” Mankad said in a Mayo Clinic news release. “Women who are having a heart attack can be tired and often have an overwhelming sense of uneasiness — that something is wrong.”

Women often ignore these symptoms because they doubt they might be having a heart attack. A 2019 AHA survey found that only 44% of respondents knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.

No. 2: Know your risk of heart attack and stroke. These include age, high blood pressure, diabetes, a worrying cholesterol profile, and smoking or vaping.

A cholesterol profile high in “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides — fats in the blood — increases the risk of heart disease for both sexes.

Women are more likely to have high blood pressure than men as they age, so they should be aware of any changes as high blood pressure can put more strain on the heart, arteries and kidneys. It also increases the risk of stroke. Women who have diabetes or smoke are at higher risk of heart disease than men who do.

It’s also important for women to be aware of complications such as gestational diabetes, increased blood pressure during pregnancy, or preterm birth, as they can increase the risk of heart disease later in life.

Each of these risk factors should be shared and discussed with a doctor, Mankad said.

#3: Reduce your risk. To prevent heart disease, you should take measures to control blood pressure, control cholesterol, lower blood sugar, exercise daily, eat a healthy diet, lose weight and quit smoking.

“Quitting smoking or quitting vaping is one of the best things you can do for your heart,” Mankad said.

“The most lasting changes often start small,” she added. “Just 10 minutes of walking or activity a day can improve mood and create a healthy habit to build on. Replacing a processed food with more nutritious whole grains, fruits or vegetables, and choosing olive oil over hydrogenated oils all have positive effects on heart health over time.”

The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides guidance on a healthy heart.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, press release, February 1, 2022

This article originally continued consumer.healthday.com.

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