National Wear Red Day® is February 7, so what does it mean? Started by the American Heart Association, the Go Red for Women initiative is “designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.” While wearing red may not improve health directly, it helps show support and a commitment to taking care of your own heart health as well as your loved ones’ heart health.

Why Heart Health is Vital for Women
Often considered to be a common male affliction, heart disease is responsible for almost as many deaths with women. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. In fact, 1 in 3 deaths among women are caused by a heart attack or stroke. Coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease, affects roughly 1 in 16 women, age 20 and older. With proper care, 80% of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented, helping women improve their health to live longer and fight heart disease.

Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women
Understanding the symptoms of heart disease could help identify and manage a health risk before it causes a heart attack or stroke. Some women may experience symptoms such as:

  • Dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort, otherwise known as angina
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Unfortunately for some women, heart disease will go unnoticed, with no obvious symptoms until a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, heart failure, or other symptoms like arrhythmia occur.

Symptoms of Heart Attack and Stroke in Women
Men and women share many common symptoms and signs of a heart attack and stroke, but some are experienced more by women.

Some signs and symptoms that could indicate a heart attack include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort felt in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

While any of these symptoms may be experienced by men or women, women are more likely to have shortness of breath, back and jaw pain, vomiting, and nausea, sometimes making it more difficult to identify a heart attack in the moment.

Symptoms of a stroke typically appear suddenly and include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Difficulty seeing or experiencing blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache

In either case, if a heart attack or stroke is suspected, it is important to call 911 and get to a hospital immediately for treatment.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Various medical conditions and lifestyle choices contribute to a higher risk of heart disease, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Working with your doctor to identify and treat your potential health risks can help lower the possibility of developing heart disease.

Help Prevent Heart Disease
Through proper education and better lifestyle choices, it is possible to help prevent heart disease, both for yourself and your loved ones. Reducing your stress and exercising regularly can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Regular wellness exams can help physicians identify subtle changes to health and treat any underlying issues you may have been unaware of. The experienced medical staff at HealthLinc is here to provide comprehensive care with various healthcare services to ensure you and your family stay healthy for years to come.

Visit one of our convenient area locations today to gain a better understanding of your heart disease risk and encourage others to do the same.