According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, accounting for about 1 in 5 deaths. However, many women don’t consider heart disease a possibility until their doctors bring it up, and information about this deadly disease is often geared toward men. So, how do womens’ experiences with heart disease differ, and what should you be aware of when assessing your cardiovascular health?
Indus Healthcare in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties provides care and advice to women in all stages of life. Our experienced staff, led by Dr. Amit Paliwal, is committed to women’s health, and knows how to identify and diagnose symptoms of heart disease in women. If you have concerns about your cardiovascular health, we can help.
Heart disease: the basics
Heart disease is a broad, scary term. Many different diseases can affect the heart, including:
- Heart infections, caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses
- Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
- Coronary artery disease (CAD), a buildup of plaque in the arteries
- Arrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm
- Congenital heart defects, problems present at birth
- Cardiomyopathy, a condition caused by weakened heart muscles
Diseases of the heart can quickly lead to serious complications and even death. That’s why it’s important to take symptoms seriously. However, women often experience different symptoms than men, which can make it difficult to diagnose these issues.
What women need to know
When we learn about heart attacks and abnormal cardiovascular symptoms, we often only hear one side of the story. Men are typically portrayed as having sudden pain on one side, starting in the arm or shoulder and moving to the chest. But women can experience unique symptoms before a heart attack, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual fatigue and sleep disturbances in the days or weeks prior
- Pain, seemingly from from indigestion or gas
- Pressure in the center of the chest (and sometimes the arm)
- Unexplained anxiety
- Jaw pain
- Shoulder, throat, and upper back pain
Many women aren’t aware of what these symptoms signify, and don’t know they’re experiencing a heart attack until it’s too late.
To make matters worse, women tend to downplay their symptoms when experiencing pain or discomfort, leading them to avoid medical care. Even during an emergency, 35% of women reported they wouldn’t call an ambulance if they thought they were having a heart attack.
If you have concerns about your cardiovascular health, you should seek a doctor that takes you seriously. To get in touch with Dr. Paliwal and our team at Indus Healthcare, or to schedule an appointment, visit our contact page for more information. We also offer telehealth visits.