by Mary Wright, Health Educator at North End Waterfront Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States. In fact, more women than men die each year from heart attacks. 1 in 4 women die from heart disease every year while 1 in 30 women die from breast cancer. Women may have different symptoms than men and are often not aware that they are having a heart attack.
The symptoms that women are likely to have are:
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, back of the neck, jaw, back or stomach.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Unusual fatigue
A symptom more common in men is an uncomfortable pressure or squeezing or pain in the mid chest that lasts longer that a few minutes. This symptom can also be present in women.
If you develop any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
The risk factors for heart disease are:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- Obesity or being overweight
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol use
To reduce your risk of developing heart disease:
- Exercise 30-60 minutes on most days
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Eat a heart healthy diet that is low in fat, cholesterol and salt.