In contrast to what is thought, ischemic cardiovascular diseases (MCI) affect many women, even under the age of 55, who often do not have full-blown symptoms even in the presence of a heart attack. A study by the McGill University Health Center, published in JAMA analyzed the medical records of 1,015 patients, between 18 and 55 years old, hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome, finding that silent heart attack affects mainly women: one in 5.
The symptoms in women are different from those that appear in men, moreover, they often do not manifest themselves, making it difficult to recognize an imminent heart attack promptly. How is it possible, therefore, to calculate the risk of a heart attack in women and intervene through prevention? First of all, let’s learn to recognize the symptoms of a female heart attack.
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HEART ATTACK RISK IN WOMEN: SPECIFIC SYMPTOMS
American research has also brought to light another new fact, which is that many women hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome are young women, for whom it is often easier to misdiagnose. If chest pain remains the most obvious symptom, however, heart attack in women has specific symptoms, different from those that appear in men. In particular, to signal an imminent risk are:
- lack of air
- He retched
- pain in the jaw
- back pain
In the presence of these manifestations, it is possible to suspect the obstruction of a coronary artery, so the call to 118 must be timely.
BUT HOW TO INTERVENE IN THE PREVENTIVE PHASE?
For a long time, even the scientific community underestimated the risk of a heart attack in women because they were thought to be covered by the action of estrogen. The contribution of estrogen, on the other hand, is not always sufficient, however, it is important in the fertile age since these hormones protect the woman by taking care of:
- control of cell proliferation, i.e. cell division and dysfunction of the endothelium, the tissue that lines the blood vessels internally
- antioxidant and control activity on the lipid profile which includes the values of total cholesterol, HDL; LDL, and triglycerides, to check that there are no changes in the number of fats or lipids normally present in the blood
- modulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which deals with the regulation of blood pressure, or the force that the blood exerts on the arteries to reach the whole body.
However, the best intervention, both for young women and for those who have already reached menopause, can be implemented with proper prevention, to reduce risk factors.
Let’s go deeper into this important aspect.
ISCHEMIC CORONARY HEART DISEASE AND FEMALE HEART ATTACK RISK
As we have recently seen talking about symptoms and prevention of heart attack in women, some risk factors affect an ischemic coronary disease. One part concerns the presence of pathologies such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, and depression, while another group of factors strictly depends on lifestyles: cigarette smoking, in particular associated with the intake of oral contraceptives, abdominal obesity, but also poor physical activity.
Concerning these last factors, it is possible to intervene effectively by following a correct lifestyle, to be followed continuously if you want to obtain results for health. This is especially true in preventing the risk of a heart attack in women.
HOW TO CALCULATE THE RISK OF HEART ATTACK?
To calculate the risk of a heart attack in women, but also to help prevent it with healthy habits, some elements must be considered:
- smoking habit
- systolic blood pressure
- total cholesterolemia
- anti-hypertensive treatment in progress
These are the main traditional risk factors, some of which are related to habits considered modifiable.
Let’s explore them together.
Heart attack and heart disease also pass through our diet. Eating consciously, as we have also seen in the post-heart attack diet, means favoring foods rich in Omega-3, such as fish, but also legumes, vegetables, and whole grains, avoiding saturated fats. This is also particularly important for keeping cholesterol within safe parameters, avoiding hypercholesterolemia and its consequences for the heart.
Bodyweight is also closely linked to diet and cholesterol, the increase of which determines one of the risk factors for heart attack in women and men. In particular, the Framingham Heart Study, the Manitoba Study, and the Harvard School of Public Health Nurses Study found that obese (and sedentary) women are more at risk of a heart attack. It is good to avoid, in fact, continuous changes in weight, falling into obesity or excessive thinness, to maintain one’s weight-shape, identifiable thanks to the Body Mass Index (MCI) which is given by the ratio between our weight in Kg divided by our height in meters. You can calculate your MCI also from the website of the Ministry of Health.
REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
The best for health would be to move, at least 30 consecutive minutes a day. However, 20 minutes of movement a couple of days a week may be enough to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, which is considered a serious risk factor for heart attack in women.
Smoking is not good for you, ever. And quitting, at any time, even after many years, brings visible results in a short time in terms of well-being and health. Among the many negative consequences, smoking is also one of the risk factors for heart attack, and its incidence increases further for those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.
However, another important aspect to consider in the prevention of heart attack risk in women remains, which is to undergo periodic examinations.
CARDIOVASCULAR PREVENTION TESTS
Those suffering from diabetes or those with familiar cases related to ischemic cardiovascular diseases must be particularly attentive to their health, choosing a healthy lifestyle and monitoring their values through tests, such as those of cholesterol and blood sugar. But not only. The screening for cardiovascular disease is important for everyone because it can perform early diagnosis and lower the risk of stroke in women and men. Those who wish can also evaluate a Medicare insurance policy such as Family Protection which allows them to obtain a tailor-made program with nutrition and training tips to keep your heart healthy.
Given the incidence of heart attack risk factors in women that are modifiable, are you ready to change your eating and training habits?
Alice Christina, a seasoned health writer, combines her passion for wellness with a strong foundation in evidence-based research. She crafts insightful content that empowers readers to make informed health decisions. Alice's expertise shines through her concise and reliable health articles.
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