5 Heart Health Mistakes that may Increase a Woman’s Risk of Heart Attack
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for about 1 in every 5 female deaths according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This may be because women are often unaware of their risk factors. Today, we talked with Dr. Jeffrey Morgan to explore 5 common heart health mistakes that women make:
Failure to Get Regular Check-Ups
Women are often the primary caregivers and may not take the time to get regular check-ups. Many women wait for symptoms of high blood pressure such as dizziness and headache to appear before seeing their doctor. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar factors aren’t necessarily symptomatic and increase heart attack risk.
Dr. Jeffrey Morgan advises women to have their blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checked regularly.
They say sitting is the new smoking. Though smoking is still at the top of the list for contributing to heart disease, being sedentary is also a problem. Having good intentions to exercise but failing to stick with an exercise regime is a common mistake many of us make. (If you’re currently using your treadmill as a clothes hanger this probably applies to you!) Moving and staying active is one of the best things you can do for your health, and your heart.
Dr. Jeffrey Morgan suggests choosing an activity you enjoy such as: walking, gardening, dancing, biking, yoga or hiking. Regular exercise is better than sporadic exercise and choosing something you enjoy will help you stick with it. Talk to your doctor before embarking on an exercise program, especially if you have excess weight to be addressed through diet.
Ignoring the Warning Signs
Many of us believe chest pain is the main sign of heart attack. Women may not experience chest pain at all. Many women fail to seek medical attention, mistaking their symptoms for something more minor. The CDC outlines that some women may not experience symptoms at all and though they may have angina or chest pain, other pain may include:
· Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat
· Pain in the upper abdomen or back
Absence of chest pain can make symptoms confusing. Other symptoms a woman may experience are similar to that of the flu including fatigue, nausea and vomiting and are easily mistaken for something less significant.
Dr. Jeffrey Morgan encourages women to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and to seek medical attention if they experience the symptoms listed above as well as: abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, upper body discomfort, dizziness, or serious signs of heart failure which include: swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
Not Sharing Medical History
Sometimes earlier health issues can impact a woman’s heart health later in life. Women may be unaware for example that pregnancy conditions such as: gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension or preeclampsia may increase heart attack risk later in life.
Dr. Jeffrey Morgan encourages women to share their full medical history whether it seems relevant or not. Sharing your full history with your doctor helps with prevention.
Failing to Pay Attention to Other Health Conditions
According to John Hopkins research, women under the age of sixty with diabetes, have four times the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Managing blood sugar and diabetes is crucial to avoid heart attack.
Dr. Jeffrey Morgan suggests learning how certain health conditions may increase your risk of heart attack. In addition to diabetes, a link has been found between those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and depression to have an increased risk of heart attack.
Dr. Jeffrey Morgan hopes that by being informed about these common mistakes, women will be less likely to have heart problems in the future.