Pop Quiz: What disease is the #1 cause of death for women? If you said breast cancer, you would be wrong – it’s heart disease. Typically, heart disease and stress related problems were associated with men and their health. But changes in our society, eating habits, and lifestyles have turned the tables.
Studies show that diet and exercise along with maintaining a healthy weight are key factors in controlling or lowering your risk for heart disease. This includes simple things like reducing your salt intake, avoiding risky habits such as smoking, or learning to control other risk factors and health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
In fact, high blood pressure is one of the riskiest symptoms. Known as the “silent killer, many individuals with high blood pressure don’t feel different – no sickness, no dizziness, nothing till it’s too late. That’s why diet combined with an overall healthy lifestyle is important in reducing heart disease – it helps control your blood pressure. It’s best to take a proactive approach and have your blood pressure checked whenever you visit your healthcare provider or clinic.
And, although heart disease does run in families, a person can develop problems or be at risk for a number of other reasons. The combination of birth control pills and smoking has been found to increase a woman’s risk for heart disease. Misuse or altering hormones for menopause without your doctor’s knowledge can also lead to problems.
Signs and symptoms that are commonly thought to signal a heart program such as a sharp pain in your chest (known as angina) can differ quite a bit in women. Aside from this typical sharp pain in the chest, women may also experience other feelings such as extreme fatigue, an achy or tight, heavy feeling. Also, if there is pain, it could be pain in the back somewhere between the shoulder blades rather than the chest. Of course, there are other indicators such as trouble breathing or sleeping, constant feelings of nervousness or unusual headaches, or even sick to your stomach.
People often feel a number of these symptoms and the cause can certainly be related to something other than heart problems. Regardless, it’s best to discuss any concerns with your medical provider to help you avoid one of the deadliest diseases for women.