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Heart disease doesn't affect all women in the same way and neither does it have the same warning signs as heart diseases in men. For women, heart disease is a bigger threat than breast cancer. Cardiovascular diseases also kill more women than men as the disease progresses differently in men and women. Here are a few things you should know about heart diseases.
Women have more atypical symptoms of heart attacks: The classic symptoms of heart attacks are pain in the left arm, chest pain and heart palpitations. Though women may exhibit these symptoms, they are more likely to have atypical symptoms. These include nausea, stomach aches, pain in the shoulders and upper back and extreme fatigue.
Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes can increase risks of heart disease: Even though your blood pressure may go back to normal and conditions like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes may go away post pregnancy, their effects linger on. The risk of heart disease for a woman who suffered from preeclampsia doubles while gestational diabetes can cause glucose intolerance leading to obesity or other such conditions which are risk factors for heart diseases.
Hot flashes could be a sign of heart problems: Hot flashes are usually associated with menopause but may also be a symptom of underlying heart problems. Hot flashes that occur after a exerting a strenuous effort on something can be a sign of angina in women.
Men and women do not face equal risks: Traditional risks to heart diseases such as cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure affect both men and women but some factors such as diabetes, stress, depression and smoking affect women more than they affect men. Since women tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle than men, a lack of exercise also affects them more than it affects men. In addition, a low level of estrogen can also increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions. This is usually seen after menopause.
There are five metabolic risk factors for heart disease. If you have 3 or more of them, it is termed as metabolic syndrome. These risk factors are:
- A waist circumference of more than 35". This is also called abdominal obesity
- A triglyceride level higher than 150 mg/dL
- A low level of good cholesterol i.e. HDL cholesterol that is less than 50mg/dL
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar. This could also be a sign of diabetes.
While some factors like genetics are out of our control, most of these factors can be controlled by conscious lifestyle changes. Your doctor may also prescribe medication for the same. Heart disease can occur at any time so do not take your heart for granted.