General Diseases  
 
Although many people think of heart disease as a man's problem, women can and do get heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. It is also a leading cause of disability among women.
Heart Attack
The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time. It's the major reason people have heart attacks.
 
 
The older a woman gets, the more likely she is to get heart disease. But women of all ages should be concerned about heart disease. All women can take steps to prevent it by practicing healthy lifestyle habits.
 
 
Are women at risk?
 
Women are at risk for heart disease and heart attacks, just like men. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women over 65. Heart disease kills more women over 65 than all cancers combined. Women develop heart problems later in life than men -- typically 7 or 8 years later. However, by about age 65, a woman's risk is almost the same as a man's.
 
  Control your blood pressure  
 
Treating high blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to help control high blood pressure. Reducing how much salt you consume can also help. If these steps don't lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medicine for you to take.
 
  Control your cholesterol level  
 
If you don't know your level, ask your doctor to check it. Diet is a key part of lowering high cholesterol levels. However, some people may need to take medicine in addition to diet and exercise.
 
  Maintain a healthy weight  
 
Extra weight puts strain on your heart and arteries. Exercise and a low-fat diet can help you lose weight. Being overweight means you have a higher risk for many other health problems, especially diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. If you're overweight, talk to your doctor about a safe and effective way to lose weight.
 
  Exercise regularly  
 
Remember, your heart is a muscle. It needs regular exercise to stay in shape. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking, gives your heart the best workout. You can also use fitness equipment like exercise bicycles, treadmills and ski machines when exercising indoors. Finding an exercise partner may make it easier and safer for you to exercise often. You should exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
 
  Eat a low-fat diet  
 
Keep fat calories to 30% or less of the total calories you eat during a day and avoid saturated fat (the fat in meats and coconut oil). Information is available to help you make healthy choices. For example, food labels list nutrition information, including fat calories, many cookbooks have heart-healthy recipes, and some restaurants serve low-fat dishes.
 
  Take care of diabetes  
 
If you have diabetes, regular exercise, weight control, a low-fat diet and regular doctor visits are important. If you need to take medicine for diabetes, be sure to take it exactly as your doctor tells you to.
 
  Be aware of chest pain  
 
Be sure to contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from pain in your chest, shoulder, neck or jaw. Also notify your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or nausea that comes on quickly. If you are having a heart attack, the faster you can get to the hospital, the less damage will happen to your heart. Every second counts.
 
  Know your family history  
 
Having a father or brother with heart disease before age 55, or a mother or sister with heart disease before age 65, are factors that contribute to heart disease. Inform your doctor about your family history.
 
  Subtle Symptoms of Heart Attack  
 
Most of the early research studies on the symptoms of heart attacks underrepresented women and focused primarily on older men, who generally reported feeling pain and pressure in their chest prior to an attack. Once a woman does seek treatment, health care professionals commonly misinterpret or underestimate the severity of her symptoms. This trend is also apparent when dealing with CAD, a frequent precursor to a heart attack
 
 
Women are less likely to recognize that they have a heart problem, and the tests to determine if their symptoms are from coronary heart disease are not as reliable as they are for men.
 
  Typical symptoms are:  
 
Classic crushing chest pressure below the breastbone with pain and tingling down the left arm, accompanied by profuse sweating, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness.
 
 
Men are more likely to describe symptoms similar to these. Women with coronary heart disease tend to have what doctors refer to as "atypical" symptoms. They more often experience:
 
 
  • New episodes of fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Insomnia

  • Indigestion

  • An anxious feeling

 
 
These non-specific symptoms have many other possible causes, whereas crushing chest pressure with physical exertion or emotional stress makes doctors think about a heart-related cause immediately.
 
 
Even when doctors suspect that a woman's symptoms may be due to coronary heart disease, making a definitive diagnosis can be more challenging compared to a man.
 
  Symtoms, effected population, occurence, treatment, precaustion suggestions  
 
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