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Most of us think that men are at a greater risk to develop heart disease than women, but the truth is, more women than men die of heart disease each year.  One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that the symptoms are different for women than they are for men.  Women tend to deal with stress a lot differently then men. With stress comes depressed immune systems which can cause damage to organs, and often the one most at risk is the heart.

One of the most common symptoms of a heart attack in men is a constant pain or pressure in the chest and upper arms.  Women, conversely, rarely report chest pain at all. The symptoms women complain of include: neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, and even abdominal discomfort. Some others include: shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, sweating heavily, and shortness of breath.  These symptoms rarely alert women to the fact that they are facing a serious issue – a heart attack.

Women tend to not only have blockages in their main arteries but in the smaller ones too. This condition is called small vessel heart disease or micro vascular disease.

A really horrible thing about heart attacks in women is that symptoms may come on when they are sleeping or resting and they may not feel them because they are asleep. Women also tend to downplay their symptoms and be reluctant to go to the emergency room or the hospital.  They may wait too long and then it may be too late.

Heart disease risk factors for women include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. Interestingly, diabetes in women increases heart disease at a much higher rate then in men. Some other factors that increase the risk of heart attacks in women with heart disease (more than in men) are smoking, fat around the midsection and higher than normal blood sugar and high triglycerides. Also depression with stress is much higher in women and a big part in damaging the heart. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause may cause a significant risk factor for micro vascular disease.

Women, as a group, tend to exercise less then men and this adds to the list of factors.  And very important for all women to know is that this disease isn’t something only older women should worry about. Women under the age of 65 and with family history of heart disease should take this disease very seriously. If you take care of your body by not smoking and exercising 60 minutes a day you may dodge the bullet. Another way to keep your heart in tip-top shape is to eat healthy, eliminating high cholesterol foods, consuming less salt, and eating foods with no saturated fat.

If you want your heart and other organs to work properly you need to establish a healthy body weight and BMI. BMI stands for body mass index.  This scale considers your height and weight to see if you’re overweight or obese. If your BMI is over 25 you have now doubled your risk for heart disease and other health complications. Again this is why exercise is so vital to your overall health. Losing only 10 pounds can lower the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes which can then help lower the risk for heart disease and heart attack.

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Taking a daily baby Aspirin is extremely beneficial to heart health, along with taking krill fish oil pills. Choosing whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats can help you maintain a healthy weight which is excellent for your heart.

I have talking about how to keep yourself at a safe weight and how to drop your risk of heart disease. It is more important to start these healthy habits early in life so you can live a long life. Take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you.


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