Medical experts are finally learning more about how to actually correctly identify heart disease in women! After all, it turns out that women’s and men’s hearts are quite different and, as a result, so are the ways in which heart attacks look for the two.
For years, a woman in her 50s may have woken up a little nauseous without thinking too much of it. Maybe she’d then go on a walk and feel a little weak and tired.
Encouraged by her friends and family to go get a check up anyway, she’d end up being sent right back home, being told that she was probably just dealing with some anxiety or exhaustion.
After all, there was no blockage in any of her heart’s three main arteries, nor was there any chest pain so it couldn’t be a heart attack, right? Wrong!
Many doctors fail to take one thing into consideration – she is not a man!
Until recently, our understanding of this deadly disease has been based on men, primarily.
You may have heard of “Broken heart syndrome,” which is used to refer to a temporary condition that happens, mostly to women, when surprise or particularly stressful situations happen, causing chest pain and tightness.
According to Erica Spatz, a Yale Medicine cardiologist and clinical investigator for the Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation the knowledge about women’s heart disease has been changing. Here’s how!
- Do Hormones Contribute to Risk Factors in Women’s Heart Disease?
The short answer is yes, as per Erica Spatz. Apparently, hormonal cycles can affect women’s cardiovascular health as in the years prior to menopause, estrogen protects the heart, relaxing the arteries and promoting good cholesterol.
But, after menopause sets in, the levels of estrogen decline, raising the cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- How are Heart Attack Symptoms Different in Women?
While chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women, the latter may not experience the most intense pain when compared to the other sex.
Instead, they usually experience a tightness or a dull ache and may also experience jaw pain, nausea and shortness of breath.
Other times, the symptoms may be really mild and inconspicuous such as clammy skin, unusual fatigue and dizziness.
All of this often leads to a lack of correct diagnosis by their doctors or an under-recognition of the symptoms by the women themselves, who would then not seek medical attention.
- Are Women’s Heart Attacks Different as Well?
That is indeed, sometimes the case as findings on tests don’t always follow the expected patterns.
Most tests are not actually designed to correctly recognize heart disease in women, which is obviously a systemic error.