What Women Should Know About Their Heart Health

Your heart may be the strongest muscle in your body, but it’s more vulnerable than you may realize. One out of four women die every year due to heart disease, and many of them never had any warning signs.

To the team at Phoenix Heart, nothing’s more important than the health of your heart. Our 14 physicians are all certified health care professionals who specialize in cardiovascular care and women’s heart health. You can trust them to carefully, compassionately, and accurately diagnose and treat your heart disease. Better yet, they can help you prevent it.

Here are some important facts our cardiovascular team wants you to know about women and heart health.

Women’s and men’s hearts are not created equal 

Take an average heart from an average man and an average woman, and you may not be able to tell the difference. But there’s more than meets the eye. The heart receives its lifeblood from the coronary arteries, and when those arteries clog up with plaque, you have a heart attack. What seems like an equal opportunity killer, is actually a bit sexist — more women die from heart attacks than men. 

Why? Because women’s heart disease often hides in the microvessels that feed the heart directly rather than in the main coronary arteries. That means it’s harder to detect and prevent. 

Ethnicity plays a role in heart disease

Not only is heart disease sexist, but it’s racist as well. Ethnic origin tends to make a difference in who experiences heart issues. Women who are African American are at a higher risk for heart disease than Caucasian or Hispanic women. Several factors may contribute to that statistic, such as higher tendencies toward hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. 

If your race puts you in the high risk column, it’s best to take precautions to prevent the onset of heart disease by eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and communicating with your doctor.

Smoking can triple your chances of dying from a heart attack

Tobacco kills. It’s indisputable. If you’re a woman, smoking makes you 25% more likely to develop heart disease than men who smoke — unfair, but true. 

The good news it that it’s preventable. If you don’t already smoke, you’re way ahead of the game. But if you are a smoker, quitting dramatically decreases your likelihood of stroke, heart failure, or heart attack. 

Here’s what happens when you kick the habit:

And that’s just the first few days. Each week, month, and year you’re tobacco free, you will greatly improve your health, and after 15 years your chances of getting heart disease will be the same as someone who has never smoked. 

Being young doesn’t exclude you from heart disease

It’s a myth that the hormones like estrogen coursing through the veins of young healthy women immunizes them from heart problems. 

Nearly 16,000 women die from cardiac arrests every year and more than 40,000 end up hospitalized — all under the age of 55. The lesson here is: Don’t let your youth lull you into a false sense of invincibility. Be mindful of your risk factors and warning signs, and talk openly and often with your doctor.

The Hollywood heart attack is only the tip of the iceberg

When most people think of a heart attack, they think of the classic movie version where the actress clutches her heart and falls dramatically to the floor. That can, and certainly does, happen. But many women experience very different symptoms, and sometimes, no symptoms at all.

Some atypical symptoms you may experience are:

The best place to start is at a practice where you know the medical team is highly qualified to answer all your questions and give you the best chance at preventing or treating any heart issues. Call us today at one of the Phoenix Heart offices in Phoenix, Glendale, Goodyear, Anthem, Buckeye, or Black Canyon City, Arizona. Or you can click the “request appointment” button to schedule a consultation right away. 

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