This is a guest post by Erinn Stam
Heart disease is the number one cause of death of women living in the United States and it is one of the top three causes of death for American men. As such, it’s important that you learn what the symptoms of heart disease are, how to prevent heart disease and how to manage heart disease (if you’ve already been diagnosed).
Symptoms of Heart Disease
You may think the symptoms of heart disease would be the same for men and women but they tend to differ slightly by gender. Men’s heart disease symptoms tend to be more obvious and pronounced, whereas women’s heart disease symptoms can be more subtle or difficult to interpret.
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women
The following are the most commonly reported symptoms of heart disease in women:
- Pain in your chest (you might feel like something is continually pressing down on your chest, or you might feel a temporary pain like someone stabbed you in the heart, but then withdrew)
- Feeling as if you might faint
- Sudden and unjustified fatigue
- Awareness of your heart beat (you may suddenly feel your heart flip flopping or seizing up)
Symptoms of Heart Disease in Men
The following are the most commonly reported symptoms of heart disease in men:
- Pain in your chest (often described as feeling as if an elephant sat on your chest)
- Radiating pain, from heart to left arm
- Difficulty breathing (usually characterized as shortness of breath)
- Sudden and unjustified exhaustion
- Temporary chest pain (it may feel like someone squeezed your heart and then let go when you rest)
What Causes Heart Disease?
There are several factors that contribute to your chances of developing heart disease, including but not limited to:
- Heredity (Does heart disease run in your family?)
- Obesity (Have you checked your BMI lately?)
- Oral health problems (Poor dental health is linked to heart disease)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
How Can You Prevent and/or Manage Heart Disease?
Everyone over age 50 should be thinking about either preventing or managing heart disease. We live in the land of plenty, where it’s easy to overindulge. We all need to pay attention to weight, diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits that will prevent heart disease and manage it if we are diagnosed. The following are important steps to take:
- Watch your diet (eat mostly fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains)
- Watch your portions (if you can control your weight, you’ll decrease your chances of developing heart disease)
- Watch your alcohol intake (if you’re going to drink, make it a glass of red wine, and no more than seven servings per week)
- Exercise daily (a thirty-minute-a-day walk is great, but more is better)
- Brush and floss your teeth three times a day and see your dentist for cleanings at least once a year (researchers both at the University of Michigan and at Harvard has determined a link between bacteria present in oral infections and bacteria present in heart disease)
- Manage your stress (try meditating for fifteen minutes a day, petting a dog or cat, or listening to calming music)
- See your doctor for annual well checks
If you stay on top of your health, your heart will thank you for it!
Bio: Erinn Stam is the Managing Editor for nursingscholarships.org. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about her lpn scholarship. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.
- 12 Possible Heart Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore (webmd.com)
- “Reverse Heart Disease Now” by Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and James C. Roberts, M.D. (antiagingworld.net)
- For Heart Health, Eating Well May Trump Genes (huffingtonpost.com)