In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, about half of the women interviewed knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, yet only 13% said it was their greatest personal health risk. Other survey data suggest that on a day-to-day basis, women still worry more about getting breast cancer, even though heart disease kills six times as many women every year. The reason for this disconnect may be because breast cancer affects body image, sexuality, and self-esteem in ways that a diagnosis of heart disease does not. Also, heart disease tends to show up at an older age (on average, a woman’s first heart attack occurs at age 70), so the threat may not seem all that real to younger women. Most 50-year-old women know women their age who’ve had breast cancer but none who’ve had heart disease. In addition, many women say their physicians never talk to them about coronary risk and sometimes don’t even recognize the symptoms, mistaking them instead for signs of panic disorder, stress, and even hypochondria. The table below lists top symptoms of a heart attack in women.
Source: Harvard Health Publications site. Harvard Medical School. Gender matters: heart disease risk in women. www.health.harvard.edu/ heart- health/gender-matters-heart-disease-risk-in-women. Accessed 1 May 2017.
|Top Heart Attack Symptoms in Women One month before During a heart attack a heart attack|
|Unusual fatigue Shortness of breath|
|Sleep disturbance Weakness|
|Shortness of breath Unusual fatigue|
|Indigestion Cold sweat|
|Heart racing Nausea|
|Arms weak/heavy Arms weak/heavy|
|Source: Circulation. 2003;108:2621.|