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The Heart of a Woman

Heart Disease: Why It's Different for Women


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  • Like many people, a stroke can seem to come on where none of the risk factors indicate....and is so very devastating...I will follow this!
    Thank you for the insight. As a health care provider I am already aware of the material presented in this article. still , it was good.
    i am 47 and I just had a pacemaker implanted, it is important that all women listen to there bodies.
    I just turned 57. Last month I had a heart attack. I had extreme chest pain and went to ER and found out I was having a heart attack. One blockage of 90% had to have a stent. The others did not have much blockage at all. I have no history of heart disease in my family at all. I have low blood pressure and low cholesterol, never smoked at all. The only thing is I need to loose weight. My doctor said I shouldn't be there. I was though. Eating healthy and loosing weight is what I am doing now. It has been 6 weeks and I have lost 20lbs. That was so hard for me before but now I know it could be my life if I don't change the eating and the exercise. My symptoms before the attack was no energy and short of breath. I have slight asthma so I didn't really pay attention. I knew the weight needed to come down and I thought that was why I was feeling bad. I was also pale but didn't notice it myself. I also had a lot of reflux, I was taking a lot of antacid. I had no idea though that I was in danger of a heart attack.
  • When I was 62 I thought I was in great shape.One morning while getting ready for work I started haveing stabbing pains in my left breast.I thought it was because I had eaten a banana. I had also had chronic neck pain for some time.That was on Friday ,Tuesday I had open heart surgery.and was told I would have died if I hadn't and my neck hasn't hurt since.I would never have gone to the hospital if not for my hisband.He had bypass surgery a few years before and knew it needed looked at.
  • PEGGY145
    I am a 53 year old woman who had a heart attack last May. I am very active as I own and operate a Cattle Ranch. The day prior I had rode horse and worked cows. Then the next day when I was tired, had sore RIGHT shoulder, arm and upper back I tought I had just over done it the day before. I took some aspirin, and thought it would let up soon. Instead I became dizzy, had nausea, started with a cold sweats and was very very thirsty. I went to bed thinking I had the flu. this did not releive any of the pain. So I called my doctor. He immediately had me come to the hospital(I had already called a friend who was concerned) who drove me the 29 miles to town. To make a long story short I was having a heart attack. So all you ladies out there please do not ignore symtoms simliar to what I had I had no chest pains it may save your life. I am very lucky, and now have lowered my cholesterol by diet, and am working on loosing twenty more pounds. I have already lost nine over the past year, before joining SparkPeople.
  • Women can take a heart attack risk assessment at AHA web site. i8t is called the GoRed Heart Checkup.
  • my mom, who never had one heart related problem in her life, was recently admitted to the hospital for being short of breath...turned out to be congestive heart failure. Long story short, she was in the hospital for a while and had various roommates that we all got to know and not ONE had "typical" symptoms (i.e. like men) regarding their heart attacks/disease. Shoulder pain, intestinal flu, light headedness, jaw pain were some of the unusual symtoms I heard. The symptoms, however, did become severe enough for each of them to seek help after a while. Not soon enough to prevent their heart attacks though! My mom (age 80) who had perfect blood pressure, no diabetes, never smoked, not overweight, did not make it after the surgery. In hindsight, she had some symptoms in the last 6 months that doctors ignored, such as dizziness, and a continuing swollen left ankle.
  • My doctor ran the blood tests t see what my risk factors were and they were very high. I have conquered several of them with losing weight and exercising the last two to conquer. I reduced my cholesterol to a healthy level with the help if medication. I reduced my blood pressure with the aid of meds. I quit smoking 8 years ago. I am really trying of the last two now.I think with getting the weight off and the exercise up I may even be able to get off some of the meds.
  • I had a heart attack at age 48; going into cardiac arrest 3 times. I'm very grateful to Sparkpeople for publishing articles such as this. It's good education and journalism.
  • When I was 49 I had a heart attack.

    Whether or not my symptoms were atypical or not, I felt like I could not be having a heart attack; that it would turn out to be something else.

    Articles like "The Heart of a Woman" are an important piece of education. Knowing what some of the less common signs of a heart attack are what your risk factors may help save your life. Reacting appropriately if something does happens, however unbelievable it may seem at the time is also vitally important.
  • I'm lucky to have a really good doctor who seems aware of heart problems in women. But because I have mild asthma I occasionally get short of breath. My female doctor arranged tests to check my heart which turned out to be normal. Her male assistant doctor though seems content if I answer "no" when he asks whether I get chest pains. Your article has informed me that women don't always get chest pains like men. Thanks for the useful info. I might need it one day.
    Fantastic article. I suppose timing is one of the great things. I have been the caregiver twice, once for my fiance' who had a double bypass three years ago and more recently in Sept., my dad; He had to go for a quintuple bypass, removal of part of his heart that was damaged with his first heart attack back in 79 and an anuarism. It was a reality check and makes me realize just how precious life is. I know that it's a very delicate operation and things can go wrong. Thank God for the Heart surgeons in Alberta, Canada.

    During all of this stress, I had seen my doctor and monitored my blood pressure since June. Unfortunately, the pressure was high so they have put me on diovan. However, I am now having angina pains and pains through both arms. I know that on my dad's side heart disease was the killer. I'm a little scared - today I see the Dr. again.

    This article and it's timing is priceless!! Thank you Spark People.
    The National Institutes of Health published a press release last December that provided a review of 69 studies that spanned 39 years of research and


    The studies did indicate that the difference in symptoms might be more closely related to the fact that women (on average) experience their first heart attack a decade later in life than do men.

    Let's base articles that are posted to SparkPeople on research and not hunch. Although this author used a physician as a reference, the tone of the article - that there are specific differences in symptoms based on gender - are not supported by the NIH or solid research. It is catchy to read, but SparkPeople is better than just 'catchy journalism'!
  • I do not consider women's presenting symptoms "atypical." Men and women respond differently to heart attacks or heart pain -- that makes neither men nor women "atypical." The idea that women are "atypical" has harmed more than one woman whose physician didn't think they were having a heart attack because their symptoms presented differently.

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