February 4, 2014
Women's heart health
One in every four American women dies of heart disease. The disease in women may not be easily recognized because some women may have different symptoms for heart attack than men, says Dr. Susan Hingle, associate professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. She explains some symptoms.
“They might get chest pain, palpitations, which is fluttering of the heart, shortness of breath – things along those lines. But for many women, there are less common ways. Women may notice what we call a decrease in exercise tolerance.”
Dr. Hingle says women often have more vague symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and achiness in their shoulders or back. And some tests for heart disease are not as conclusive in women as in men. She explains the risk factors for heart disease.
“ ... high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, which is high blood sugar, smoking and family history and those all definitely contribute to heart disease, both in women and in men. When women go through menopause, they actually have comparable or even greater risk for heart disease than men.”
Dr. Hingle says there are a number of newer treatments for heart disease, which can help minimize the condition. She also says women can lessen their risk of heart disease by eating the right foods and getting a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise most days. If a woman has symptoms for a heart attack, she should see her primary care physician or go to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible.