Heart Health in Women is Different from Men. Here’s how.

diabetes managment heart disease Feb 20, 2024

Heart disease is very much like diabetes in that you feel pretty good until suddenly there’s a problem. In diabetes, you could be walking around with a really high blood sugar for quite a while, and unbeknownst to you, there's already damage going on in your body. Until something pretty drastic happens, you just keep moving on.

The same is true for heart health. You might have high blood pressure, which doesn’t always feel like much. You might have high cholesterol or inflammation. In these situations, you don't have a clue about what is happening until there's a problem. Unfortunately, for women, that first problem can be a heart attack.

The problem is women do not experience heart attacks in the same way men do. Men tend to have what is considered "classic" symptoms, that constricting pressure, like an elephant sitting on your chest, left arm pain, jaw pain, upper back pain, indigestion, shortness of breath, and perhaps some dizziness.

Women can also have those symptoms. But the most frequently mentioned symptoms, in a study that was done in 2003 of women who had heart attacks, were unusual fatigue, trouble sleeping and feeling anxious.

Now tell me a day that goes by that a woman might not feel one, two or all three of those things. That's pretty darn vague!

It’s important to know that women tend to dismiss feelings like that. 'Oh, well, I didn't sleep very well last night, so of course I'm tired” or “I'm kind of anxious, so I didn't sleep very well.' We don’t even think twice that it might be something else.

By the time we do get to the hospital, sometimes it's too late. Too much damage has been done because you've been having a heart attack all along.

So what do you do?

The most important thing for you to do is to trust yourself and your body. Listen to yourself. If you feel that something's going on, that doesn't feel right, get it checked out! You might even collect some data on yourself. An easy thing to do is take your blood pressure. Pick a time when you can take your blood pressure at the same time each day or night. Track it for 3 – 5 days and see what your body is telling you.

Don't let a medical professional tell you it's probably nothing. Show your doctor or the ER folks if you’re there, your data and push to get checked. Dismissing women’s symptoms probably doesn't happen as much these days, but it has and sometimes it still does. You know your body better than anybody else. Maybe it isn't a heart attack, but maybe it's something else that needs to be checked.

Trust yourself and listen to your body. Protect your heart so you can live a long, healthy life.

Dr Elaine


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This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. For my full Disclaimer, please click Here.



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