Heart disease is a disorder when a blood vessel that carry oxygen and nutrients to our heart was blocked, causing the occurrence of Heart Attack. However, women are at mostly unable to recover or survive from a heart attack. Hence, women need to be aware of the symptoms and keep track of their health especially after the age of 50s or after menopause.
Women usually had these symptoms but will ignore them thinking they are just other minor Illness. They are busy taking care of their family or work thus do not pay much attention to even the slightest signs and symptoms such as:
- Feel out of breath
- Ankle or feet become swollen
- Having dry cough, persistent cough
- Feel anxiety
- Feel pain in the chest
- Get tired easily
- Sudden weight increase
- Feel tightness or squeezing of the chest.
These basic symptoms may not always happen to women but take note of the other symptoms below:
- Feel lower chest pain or in the upper abdominal area
- Feel pressure or tightness in the middle area of the chest for 3-5mins
- Having cold sweat
- Fainting or dizziness
- Pain in parts of the body, neck and jaw, arm to back and stomach
- Feeling exhausted
- Unable to breath properly even in resting position
- Having vomiting and feel nausea
Beware of Silent Heart Attack:
When the blood vessels to the heart were obstructed and no obvious symptoms are detected, this silent heart attack can only be detected through an electrocardiogram. If you have diabetes and t he following symptoms, you are likely at risk:
- Unable to sleep properly
- Having heartburn or pain in the abdominal
- Out of breath and feel tired all times
- Feel mild discomfort in your jaw, arm and chest
Angina – When your heart feel pain due to narrowing of the vessel wall, blockage of oxygen to the heart. It is commonly trigger by physical or emotional; stress, excess alcohol intake, over eating, tobacco smoking and under too cold or too hot environment. People with angina have an increased risk of heart attack compared with those who have no angina symptoms.
- “Typical” angina – chest feel being squeezed or pressed
- “Atypical” angina – Pain in the back, neck, jaw, and shoulder
- “Non-anginal” – feel out of breath, very tired even though not doing anything.
- Isolated episodes of angina will cause damage to heart muscle.
- Prolonged angina (lasting 30mins) can be a sign for heart attack.
Heart attack – due to the lack of blood flow to the heart, the heart muscle will be damaged permanently.
You will experience chest pain, discomfort in upper body area, feel weak, sweat a lot, indigestion and nausea.
When your have symptoms of angina but with more persistent pain, your heart is in danger of getting a heart attack. Do not delay treatment, every second can cause damage further in your heart muscle tissue.
Silent ischemia – when you will not feel any pain in the chest or symptoms of angina. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), will take the measurement of electrical impulses produced by the heart, hence without doing heart check-up, a woman will never know she had this disease. Women with family history of heart diseases or diabetes are at risk.
Cardiac arrhythmias – When the heart beats became too slow, too fast or in irregular rhymes pattern instead of the normal heart rate of 60-100 beats per min. Atherosclerosis, weakness of heart muscle, heart disease and angina, blood clots, thyroid abnormalities or heart attack will lead to this condition.
Microvascular disease (coronary microvascular dysfunction) – is when the small blood vessels in the heart don’t expand for the flow of oxygen to reach the heart. Perimenopausal and postmenopausal women are more risk to experience symptoms of microvascular disease due to decrease level of estrogen.
Only through PET scanning or MRI, the diagnosis of this small vessel disease can be detected.
Your daily diet, lifestyle plays an important role of your overall health, if you or your love ones have the following condition, do check with your doctor if you have symptoms of the above heart problem.
Are you a long-term smoker?
Do you exercise regularly?
Are you having stress most of the time?
Do you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
Are you over-weight?
Do you like deep-fried food, sweet desserts, salty meat or snacks?
Do you have diabetes or Gastational diabetes?
Any of your family members have heart problems?
Are you age 50s and above?
Are you going through menopause?
Do you start menstruation at an early or older age?
Do you experience pre-mature child birth?
What happen during pregnancy?
During the 6 months period of pregnancy:
- the flow of blood will increase in the body
- become emotional and physically stress
- having substantial hormonal changes
- older pregnant women were more likely to have a heart attack.
- Getting pregnant at the ages of 35 -39 can be 6 times at risk
- If you are age 40- 44 and pregnant, you are 10 times at risk
What happen during menopause period?
During this period your levels of the hormone estrogen drop, physically begin to change so are the rest of your body systems and functions. Estrogen helps to protect our heart from disease, a drop in estrogen will bring increase risk of heart disease. Genetically you may have a higher risk of heart attack, or if you have the following symptoms:
- A higher level of triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood)
- A higher level of LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
- A lower level of HDL (“good” cholesterol)
- A high level of blood pressure
- With thyroid hormones
How can we prevent it?
Women are always busy taking care of the young and old in the family, they often ignore these symptoms and failed to seek treatment seriously. Taking control of your lifestyle, diet and overall health is your responsibility, do not hesitate or delay treatment as the consequences will only bring more harm and complications.
Get active – Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, like walking, biking, dancing, or gardening at least five days a week. If you have 150 minutes of physical activity weekly, you can reduce the risk by 30%. Begin a middle-aged woman, walking is the best workout for your overall health.
Stop smoking – Stop now and maintain smoke free, you can reduce the risk. Inhaling second hand smoke and taking other tobacco substances should be avoided completely.
Managing healthy weight and stress free – Reduce your stress level with yoga, a hobby or meditation. Overcome depression, over eating habits and learn to exercise and maintain proper weight independently.
Keep track of your numbers – Keep a record of your total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI). Maintain healthy level of blood pressure by taking care of your low salt diet, not consuming excess alcohol and calories.
Eat healthy foods – Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains products, lean proteins and legumes. Include food rich in fiber and omega fats but avoid all processed food.
Know and understand the signs – Learn and know the symptoms to protect from further complication of heart problems.
Take medication seriously – manage your blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol level, know about the medications prescribe by the doctor and do research of any complications or symptoms of body denied.
What are treatments?
Medication – These need to be taken for treating your high blood pressure and cholesterol. Take the directed required amount can prevent occurring of heart attack but if any side effects experience, seek doctor advice immediately.
When it is necessary to improve blood flow to your heart using surgical procedures such as coronary angioplasty and coronary artery bypass graft.
Coronary angioplasty – a catheter with a balloon tip inserted into the blocked artery and unclog the artery with the inflation of the balloon.
Coronary artery bypass graft – to build a bypass around the clogged part of an artery by using a blood vessel from part of the body.
Rehabilitation program- to build up your strength and stamina after going through surgery. It will include exercise training, counselling, diet and nutrition guidance and learning to manage stress know what other risk factors to look out for.
Heart disease cannot be cure, once you have it, you will need to face it throughout your life time. You need to take care of your daily diet and lifestyle in order to prevent your blood vessel from getting worst. Educate yourself and your loved ones to prevent the threats of these heart disease.