Did you know that about 110 women die of cardiovascular disease in South Africa each day?

When you think heart attack victim, you may picture an overweight, middle aged man gripping the left side of his chest, right? Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease” present stats suggests that more women are dying of cardiovascular disease than men, and that they’re unlikely to survive their first attack.

Men and women are indeed different when it comes to heart disease. But why are heart conditions amongst women reaching alarming proportions? The problem could be twofold. Either women are being misdiagnosed or they are misinterpreting the signs.

Like many other conditions, not all heart attack symptoms are the same for men and women. Women are likely to experience atypical (although sometimes typical) symptoms which could include: unusual heavy pressure to the chest, sharp upper body pain in the jaw, neck or back, cold sweats, swollen feet, unusual fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, or unexplained nausea.

Also, 64% of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease reported no previous symptoms at all!  So yes, you could blame lightheadedness on standing up too fast, or believe that you’re unusually tired due to a crappy night’s sleep … subtle symptoms which could easily be overlooked, right?

The good news is that for most women, heart disease is preventable 80% of the time by making a few lifestyle changes. We all know that eating healthy is key in modifying blood lipids and controlling cholesterol, but we have a few other heart-healthy ideas:  

  • Have more sex. Getting busy at least twice a week can reduce heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. Even if you never reach the Big O; researchers believe that by just being aroused can trigger your brain to release hormones such as DHEA, which may improve circulatory system function and boost cardiac performance. No partner? No worries. Even taking matters into your own hands could do the trick …
  • Drink wine. Drink one – we repeat one glass of red or white wine per day. It could reduce your chance of dying from heart disease by 25%.
  • Skip the salt. Your body counteracts salt intake by releasing extra water into the blood, leading to increased blood volume and an overworked heart.
  • Get enough Zzz’s. Missing out on adequate sleep can take a toll on your ticker in the form of high blood pressure. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Keep moving. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Although remember, time is not as important as frequency.
  • Manage stress. Being constantly frazzled leads to rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure, a potentially deadly combo. Recent studies found that 3 months of biweekly yoga can help to regulate both cortisol and irregular heart rate.
  • Floss daily. According to the Academy of General Dentistry a woman’s chance of having a heart attack may double if she has gum disease.

So ladies, start today to prioritise cardiovascular disease management.

“With a healthy heart … the beat goes on” – The Fresh Quotes

Source: netcare.co.za, theconversation.com, citizen.co.za, heartfoundation.co.za, womenshealthmag.com, cdc.gov, healthcaredive.com, webmd.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.