Raising Awareness – Women’s Heart Week

Women’s Heart Week is celebrated every year at the beginning of February. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the US. But less than half of American women are aware of this fact. This article will provide information on heart conditions affecting women and some ways to prevent or mitigate the associated risks.

Some of the Most Common Heart Problems That Affect Women

  • Atherosclerosis. This condition happens when plaque buildup in the arteries over time causes the arteries to narrow and harden. When the plaque wears down or breaks open, a blood clot may develop. If the clot blocks blood flow to the heart, it can cause a heart attack.
  • Heart failure. This happens when the heart is not able to pump blood through the body as well as it should. Heart failure is a serious medical problem because many organs, such as the lungs and kidneys, are no longer able to get the blood they need. Heart failure symptoms include:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Swelling in feet, ankles, and legs
    • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. Your heart may beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. Changes in heartbeats are harmless for most people. As you get older, you are more likely to have arrhythmias, partly as a result of changing estrogen levels.2 It’s normal to feel a few flutters or for your heart to race once in a while. If you have flutters along with other symptoms of heart attack, such as dizziness or shortness of breath, call 911 right away.
  • Atrial fibrillation. Afib is a type of arrhythmia. Afib makes it easier for your blood to clot because your heart cannot pump as well as it should. This can lead to heart failure or stroke. Afib symptoms include heart flutters and, a fast heartbeat as well as dizziness and shortness of breath.
  • Heart valve disease. Heart valve disease affects the valves that control blood flow in and out of different parts of the heart. A birth defect, older age, or an infection can cause your heart valves to not open fully or close completely. This causes the heart to work harder to pump blood. Heart valve disease can lead to stroke as well as heart failure, blood clots, or sudden cardiac arrest. Heart valve disease can cause problems during pregnancy, when your heart already has to work harder than usual to supply blood to your unborn baby. Your doctor can help you prevent problems during pregnancy if you know you have heart valve disease. But, some women do not find out that they have a heart valve problem until they get pregnant.
senior woman experiencing heart problems while sitting in bed
EKG monitor in hospital
woman's hands holding a pink plush heart

Lowering Your Risk

There are various ways that help reduce women’s risk for heart disease. Some of these preventative measures include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Keeping physically active
  • Abstaining from or quitting smoking
  • Lowering stress levels through therapeutic methods such as meditation

Related Posts: February Is American Heart Month

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