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Heart Health for Women

It’s true that women don’t always care for themselves like they do for their families. They feel they need to keep the family together but if they really got ill, the whole family would fall apart.

Although heart disease is often thought to be a problem for men, it is the leading cause of death for Canadian women, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada – yet many are not aware. Stats show that women are more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than men.

Fortunately, women can take steps to understand their unique symptoms of heart disease and make early changes and choices to try to prevent that disease from happening.

Heart attack symptoms for women may include:

  • Some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. It is not always severe and may not even be the most prominent symptom.

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort

  • Shortness of breath

  • Right arm pain

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Unusual fatigue

These symptoms can be more subtle than the obvious crushing pain often associated with heart attacks. Women’s symptoms may occur while resting or even when they’re asleep.

Women tend to downplay the symptoms and often show up in the emergency room after heart damage has already occurred. If you experience these symptoms or think you’re having a heart attack, call 911 for help immediately. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity affect both men and women. Factors that may play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women may include:

  • Diabetes

  • Mental stress and depression

  • Smoking

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Low levels of estrogen after menopause

To reduce risk of heart disease in women:

  • Quit or don’t start smoking

  • Get active

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eat a diet that’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt

Prioritize your health. Prioritize your life.

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