A woman’s heart weighs only 8-10 ounces, but the impact it has on your health and well-being is powerful.
At Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, our team of expert providers is passionate about women’s health. One of the most important areas we focus on for women is heart health, because if your heart isn’t working well, the effects can be widespread.
Here are a few things every woman should know about heart health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of female death
Only about half of women realize this fact, but heart disease (including coronary artery disease and heart attacks, among other conditions) is the No. 1 cause of death for women in the United States. It kills around 300,000 women each year, accounting for about 1 in 5 female deaths.
Heart attack symptoms can be different in women than men
The most common symptoms of a heart attack in both men and women include chest pressure, pain, discomfort, and shortness of breath. Beyond this, though, women can experience a wider range of symptoms that you might not normally attribute to a heart attack.
These symptoms include nausea and vomiting, back, neck, and jaw pain, fainting or lightheadedness, indigestion, and extreme fatigue. Don’t just brush off these symptoms if you’re a woman — get checked out by a doctor.
Heart disease is preventable
You may have a predisposition toward heart issues because of your family history, but it’s not a given that you’re going to have a heart attack. Here are a few things you can do to increase the health of your heart and lower your risk of heart disease:
- Stop smoking
- Stay physically active on a regular basis
- Eat healthier
- Control your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure
- Lose weight or keep your weight down
- Limit alcohol
All of the above are achievable, but not always easy. If you’re struggling to make lifestyle changes that can boost your heart health, we can help.
You need rest — so does your heart
Sleep is vital for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the health of your heart. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can increase your risk of heart disease, as can a consistent lack of sleep (or too much sleep). Most women need 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
You should also manage the stress levels in your life. Too much stress can affect your sleeping habits, and it can also put more pressure on your heart.
Pregnancy complications can affect your heart
This is true even years after the fact. Certain pregnancy complications, such as diabetes, hypertension, and premature delivery, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease in the future. Let us know if you had any of these conditions during your pregnancy.
If you want to make sure your heart health is where it should be, we’re happy to help you at Arlington Family Practice. Just call our office or use our easy online scheduler to set your own appointment. Better heart health is just a call or click away.