Did you know that heart disease is a greater threat to a woman’s health than breast cancer? Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women over 35? I don’t want to scare you, but I do want you to be aware, and February is Heart Health Awareness month. The symptoms of heart disease that both men and women share: high cholesterol, inactivity, excess weight, high blood pressure, and smoking. That said, many women aren’t aware of the signs of heart disease that are unique to them. Here are the signs of heart attack that are most concerning (if you experience any of these, call 911 and get to an emergency room right away).
- Pressure: If you feel pressure, squeezing, fullness, heaviness, or pain in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that repeatedly goes away and comes back.
- Pain: If you have consistent pain or discomfort in one of both of your arms, neck, jaw, or stomach. Women can have pain in both arms during a heart attack.
- Constricted breathing: If you have shortness of breath (with or without chest pain).
- Nausea and vomiting: This is more common in women.
- Sweating: Especially breaking out in a sudden cold sweat.
- Lightheaded: Feeling dizzy, disoriented, or lightheaded.
- Unusual Fatigue: Any simple activity makes you feel excessively exhausted.
- Flu-Like Symptoms: You may experience all over body aches and chills.
To keep your heart healthy:
- Have an annual exam: It’s important to check in with your doctor for a full and comprehensive physical every year.
- Quit smoking. Period. Talk to your doctor about cessation options, and don’t put it off any longer.
- Start moving. Walk, dance, or swim for 30 minutes most days of the week. In addition, make sure that you get up and move once every hour of the day.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Improve your heart health by eliminating the amount of inflammation causing foods that are in your diet. This includes refined sugars and flours, gluten, dairy, and other processed foods. You can reduce your heart disease by maximizing your exposure to foods that reduce inflammation.
- Know your type. You are a dynamic, unique woman. In Ayurvedic medicine, practitioners believe that heart conditions are not just physical, but are also emotional in nature. Understanding your unique mental, emotional, and physical characteristics can help you to design a lifestyle that will keep you and your heart healthy.
- Get your rest: Sleep at least seven to nine hours a night.
- Take magnesium. This supplement will help you ease stress and will boost circulation. I recommend 400 mg before your bedtime.
If you think you might be having a heart attack:
I see patients who say they start noticing the above signs days or weeks earlier. Don’t wait so long. If you notice the above symptoms, see your doctor. The sooner you are examined, the better your chances of catching heart disease early, and in the worst case scenario, surviving a myocardial infarction.