Heart disease just as common in women

Knowing the signs and symptoms critical to prevention of heart attacks

If you’re a woman, you may not believe you’re as vulnerable to a heart attack as men – but you are. In some instances, women may not notice the signs of heart attack. They may think that other health problems are causing their symptoms or that the symptoms will go away on their own. As a result, women don’t always receive medical care quickly enough to prevent complications or death from a heart attack.

Today, we know that heart disease affects as many women as men. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in Canada for women over the age of 55 and almost as many women as men die from heart attacks.

To support you and your family in preventing or in managing heart disease, Agassiz Community Health, together with its partners, will be hosting a public information day on Tuesday, February 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the District of Kent Fitness/Activity Centre located at 6660 Pioneer Avenue in Agassiz. You will be able to have your blood pressure tested, observe exercise classes in session, have access to advice from health professionals, and gather important information to take home and read.

Not too long ago, heart disease was considered predominantly a man’s disease. Men were the breadwinners and their hard work sometimes led to chest pain and heart attacks. Women, on the other hand, had “female problems” and heart disease was not one of them. Symptoms reported by women that would have been considered signs of heart disease in men were often dismissed as meaningless or even fictitious. As a consequence, until recently, research on heart disease focused mainly on men.

From those studies emerged the “classic” symptoms of heart attack: chest pain (a painful, crushing feeling behind the breastbone), tingling down the arm (usually the left arm), accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, nausea indigestion-like symptoms and clammy skin.

In the past, it was believed that women and men had different warning signs of heart attack. This may not be the case. Both women and men may experience typical or non-typical symptoms such as pain in the arm, throat, jaw or pain that is unusual, pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, sweating, fear, anxiety, and denial. Although women may describe their pain differently from men, nevertheless, the most common symptom in women and men is still chest pain.

So what puts women at risk for heart disease and heart attacks? Some of the risk factors like age, gender, family history of heart disease, or ethnicity cannot be controlled. But, there are risk factors like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, smoking, and stress which can be controlled.

While these risk factors are the same as those for men, there are unique aspects related to women’s heart health:

• Role of estrogen — During a woman’s reproductive life cycle, about age 12 to 50, the naturally-occurring hormone estrogen provides a protective effect on women’s cardiovascular health. However, estrogen’s protective effect can change depending on a variety of factors.

• Birth control pills — In a small percentage of women, oral contraceptives increase the risk of high blood pressure and blood clots. This risk is increased by smoking and other existing risk factors.

• Pregnancy — Over the nine months of gestation, women may develop certain conditions like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes that might put them at higher risk of heart disease.

• Menopause — The overall risk of heart disease may increase due to the reduction of the hormones estrogen and progesterone produced by the body.

• Cholesterol — After menopause, as natural estrogen levels drop, more and more women tend to develop high cholesterol.

• Triglycerides — They are the most common type of fat in the body. A high triglyceride level often goes with higher levels of total cholesterol and LDL (“bad” cholesterol), lower levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and an increased risk of diabetes. Research suggests that having high triglycerides may increase the risk of heart disease.

For women, knowing about the risks of heart disease and recognizing the signs of a heart attack is critical. But, what is even more important is understanding that you can take steps to prevent heart disease. That means eliminating – or at least – minimizing the risk factors you can control by stopping smoking, becoming physically active, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and following your doctor’s recommendations.

Some women believe that making just one healthy change will take care of all of their heart disease risk. To protect your heart, it is vital to make changes that address each risk factor you have – each has the individual potential to greatly increase a woman’s chance of developing heart disease. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time. But making them is very important. The take-away message? Be aware of your risk factors and take them seriously. The actions you take now to lower your risk may just save your life.

– Submitted by Agassiz Community Health

 

 

 

Just Posted

After 30 years, Agassiz’s Miss Marge set to retire from Variety Play

From 1989 to today, Miss Marge has taken generations of kids through the district play program

RCMP believe Missing Hope teenager was headed to Chilliwack

Keely Reeze Loewen, 18, last in contact with a family member on June 13

Summer service by bus from Chilliwack to Cultus Lake starting soon

Seasonal change will see bus service from Vedder Road to Cultus elementary until Labour Day

Chilliwack trustees divided on Trans Mountain pipeline route near two schools

School district will pen letter to NEB to ask for re-routing away from schools to be considered

Agassiz RCMP finally able to get outdoor picnic table

Funds from Harrison and Kent will allow the detachment to purchase the outdoor seating area

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Commercial fishers in B.C. now required to wear life-jackets on deck: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC reports 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry between 2007 and 2018

Beekeeping Rossland boy finds human kindness sweet as honey

Family overwhelmed by kind offerings of strangers

B.C. files second legal challenge against Alberta over turn-off-taps law

B.C. government filed a second lawsuit against Alberta on June 14

Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

Canada’s commitment is to cut emissions to 70 per cent of what they were in 2005 before 2030

PHOTOS: Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa is gone

The Conservative Member of Parliament and long-time community advocate died in hospice this morning

Victoria double murder trial: Blood splatter analyst found no shoe prints on scene

RCMP analyst testifies to smears, fingermarks, ‘swipe and wipe’ patterns around apartment

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

Most Read