What Every Woman Needs to Know About Heart Health

An estimated 30 million American adults live with heart disease. Heart disease and related conditions are commonly labeled as a men’s health issue, but the truth is, it’s the top cause of death in the world for people of all genders and most races.

Heart disease is a common term for several heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. Having heart conditions like these increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death, but at Tinsley Surgical in Wilmington, North Carolina, we’re here to help.

Ellis A. Tinsley, MD, FACS, FSVS and our team understand the nuances in heart health between men and women. We offer comprehensive care for vascular issues, and today we’re exploring what every woman needs to know about her heart health.

Heart problems in women vs. men

Heart disease is commonly mislabeled as a bigger health issue for men than women, but it’s the leading cause of death for men and women. In fact, about one-third of deaths among females are caused by heart disease.

About two-thirds of women who die from heart disease show no previous signs of a heart condition. Heart disease and other heart and vascular conditions increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, but without warning signs, they may go largely undiagnosed.

Understanding your heart health starts with understanding your risk of heart disease and other heart problems. Some risk factors for heart disease are the same for women and men: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, and family history, for example.

But other factors put women at greater risk than men. Risk factors that may lead to heart disease in women include:

Risk factors and warning signs of heart problems can be different between women and men, but so can symptoms of serious cardiac events like heart attack and stroke.

Recognizing signs of a heart attack

Heart attacks affect both women and men. However, symptoms often present differently in women, making them harder to identify in a timely manner. In fact, women are more likely than men to suffer a heart attack without any chest pain.

Indications that a woman may be having a heart attack include:

Learning to recognize the signs of heart attack in women could help save your life or the life of someone close to you.

Heart issues can also affect blood flow to the brain, leading to stroke. 

Recognizing signs of a stroke

Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) can occur when a blockage stops blood flow to your brain. These events can cause permanent brain damage or death, so it’s important to recognize early warning signs and seek medical treatment immediately.

Common signs of stroke in women include:

If you suspect you or someone close to you is experiencing a cardiac event like a heart attack or stroke, seek immediate medical care or dial 911. Prompt treatment is crucial to minimize damage and preserve life.

Keeping your heart healthy

Since conditions that put your heart health at risk often come on without noticeable warning signs, it’s important to get regular cardiac screenings. At Tinsley Surgical, Dr. Tinsley and our team offer comprehensive screenings for conditions like carotid artery disease and peripheral arterial disease, both of which could increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Getting regular checkups is the best way to prevent chronic conditions like heart disease. If you are diagnosed with heart or vascular problems, we offer a range of treatment options to enhance your well-being.

If you have a preexisting condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, keeping those conditions well-managed minimizes your risk of complications. Take your medication as prescribed and continue visiting the doctor regularly.

Your heart health is closely linked to your overall well-being, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of heart and vascular complications. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Avoid foods that are high in trans fats, salt, and added sugars.

Prioritize regular exercise in your daily routine, and strive to maintain a healthy weight. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. If you do, try to stop, even if you need help to do so.

To learn more about ways to keep your heart healthy at every age, schedule an appointment with Dr. Tinsley. Call our office at 910-421-2395, send us a message, or book online today.  

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