You probably know that heart disease is the number one killer of women. But did you know that a woman’s signs of heart attack don’t necessarily look the same as a man’s? In fact, the discrepancies in symptoms can result in women being turned away from hospitals when doctors are unable to diagnose it as a heart attack. But the longer an artery is blocking blood flow to the heart, the more damage can occur to the heart muscle. That’s why it’s a good idea to understand women’s unique heart attack symptoms.
Know the signs
A 2003 study published in Circulation reviewed the symptoms of more than 500 female heart attack patients—and found that less than half of them experienced the common chest pain symptom during their episodes. According to the Mayo Clinic, women often have symptoms that are a result of blockages in not only their main arteries, but also in smaller arteries (called microvascular disease).
Many of the women in the study reported shortness of breath, weakness and unusual fatigue, as well as nausea, dizziness, discomfort that feels like indigestion and upper back pain. Experts recommend that women experiencing a cluster of these symptoms, especially ones they’ve never felt before, should seek medical help.
Protect your heart
Prevention is the best medicine! Here are some simple ways to support your heart health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Merilyn Zaubzer, naturopath at our Oakland store.
Exercise. Merilyn says it’s a good idea to work with a trainer to reduce belly fat, since women, specifically, have a higher risk of heart disease when extra weight is centered around the mid section (called visceral fat).
Make sure there’s lots of fiber and fresh food in your diet, including garlic, which helps increase blood flow and circulation, reducing the risk of artery blockages.
Try supplements that can boost cardiovascular health.
EPA is especially important for supporting heart health. Merilyn likes Renew Life’s Norwegian Gold EPA 1000 Omega, which offers a high dose of EPA to help lower triglyceride levels.
Hawthorn, one of Merilyn’s favorite heart herbs, directly supports cardiovascular function. She recommends Gaia Herbs’ Hawthorn Supreme.
CoQ10 is a crucial nutrient to take preventively, as it supports cardiovascular function as an antioxidant. Merilyn recommends CoQ10 from Pure Encapsulations or Xymogen.
As always, speak with your doctor about your heart health and whether prescription cholesterol or blood pressure medications are needed to help manage your heart disease risk.
Ask a Pharmaca practitioner about other natural ways to support your heart.