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Heart disease encompasses many diseases that affect the human heart. Any disorder in the heart and blood vessels causes one of these diseases. Though these occur in both men and women, more than 40 percent of the total female deaths are caused due to cardiovascular disease. In the United States, it is estimated that one in every three women dies of heart disease.
In women, many heart-related problems occur after menopause, when the estrogen hormone no longer protects the blood vessels. Hence, post-menopausal women are more susceptible to these diseases than women who are in their menopausal stage. According to studies conducted, it is found that the symptoms are less predictable in women than in men. Following are some major heart diseases in women and their associated symptoms.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Coronary artery disease is caused due to the formation of plaque in the arterial walls, which in turn disturbs the blood circulatory system. Symptoms of CAD in women include burning sensation in the upper abdomen, increased fatigue, sleep disturbances, indigestion, stress, chest discomfort, shortness of breath and anxiety. Heart attack and angina are major complications of coronary artery disease. More than 70 percent women are of the opinion that they suffer from at least one of these symptoms for one month prior to heart attack.
Heart Attack: Heart attack is caused due to the blockage of arteries that supply oxygenated (oxygen-rich) blood to the heart. The most common symptoms of heart attack in women are feeling of pain and/or pressure in the chest area prior to the attack. Women who had a heart attack claimed the occurrence of early warning signs, even weeks before the attack. Other symptoms of heart attack include pain in jaw, arm and back, indigestion, anxiety, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, nausea, weakness, sweating and shortness of breath.
Chronic Angina: Angina is a chronic chest pain related to heart health, caused due to lack of oxygen supply to the heart. The symptoms of angina are often heavy, aching, burning and sharp pain. In the United States, more than 70 percent of people suffering from angina are women. If anybody has chest pain for more than five minutes, then it is always advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible, since it can be a symptom of heart attack.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Peripheral artery disease is a type of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries due to fatty deposits in the arterial lining), which limits blood circulation in the leg portion. Symptoms of PAD in women may range from mild to severe leg pain, often associated with increased fatigue. In severe cases, PAD may lead to tissue death in the affected leg portion and leg ulcers.
One of the main reasons of high fatality rate among women suffering from heart disease is because not many of them consider the problems as a potential health risk. In case, a woman suffers from any of the suspected symptoms of heart disease, it is advisable to seek help from a qualified physician and evaluate the risk factors. Only then, can these diseases in women be prevented effectively. It is high time that women take these signs and symptoms seriously and get medical attention at the right time.