Deanna from Nevada was relaxing at home one evening when she started experiencing chest pain. Marilyn from Illinois immediately knew that something was wrong when her neck suddenly became very stiff. And Evelyn from New Jersey realized she needed help when she felt discomfort in her upper body.
So... what exactly do all of these women have in common?
Not only were they able to use Seniors Life Safety’s reliable medical alert systems to call for help and receive the immediate medical attention they needed, but none of them displayed what is commonly thought of as “normal” heart attack symptoms. That’s because heart attack symptoms for women are much different from the symptoms for men.
7 Common Heart Attack Symptoms for Women
Although cardiovascular disease is usually associated more with men, it’s one of the most common -- and deadly -- heart problems in elderly women. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women, causing one in four female deaths every year.
There are actually a few different reasons why women are at an increased risk of heart disease. While age, race, ethnicity, family history, inactivity and smoking are risk factors for both men and women, risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease for women include menopause, depression and mental stress.
Due to this increased risk and the number of heart problems in elderly adults steadily increasing, it’s imperative that you know how heart attack symptoms for women differ from men’s. Some women report feeling like they had a flu or some sort of bug in the 48 hours leading up to a heart episode. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of a heart attack as a woman to ensure that you can seek out immediate help from a physician. Some of those symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
Shoulder, jaw or back pain
Should you experience any of these symptoms, 911 needs to be called immediately, which is also a great reason to invest in a Seniors Life Safety medical alert device. Time is of the essence in an emergency, especially one that involves a cardiac event, and receiving immediate medical attention could be the difference between making a full recovery and being unable to continue living independently in your own home.
5 Habits that Promote a Healthy, Aging Heart
Knowing the most common heart attack symptoms for women will help you stay vigilant as you age, but that’s not enough in the long run -- in order to remain heart healthy there are some lifestyle changes that should be made. While it’s true that an aging heart has to work harder to pump blood through your arteries and blood vessels, that doesn’t mean that you are destined to experience the most common heart problems in elderly adults.
In fact, there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes you can make that will go a long way in promoting a healthy heart:
Exercise. Even something as simple as walking for 10 minutes, three times per day could strengthen your heart. But to reap even more heart healthy benefits, try incorporating a variety of aerobic exercises, like ballroom dancing, swimming or pickleball, into your daily routine.
Eat healthy. Adding color to your plate is a great way to remind yourself to add more fruits and veggies to your plate. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients your body takes in from eating fruits and vegetables is key to a healthy, aging heart. It’s also important to limit your sodium intake and manage your cholesterol levels as you age, so the more you can eat fresh produce from the supermarket or farmer’s market, the more likely you are to keep those in check.
Regularly check your blood pressure. If high blood pressure runs in your family, you’re automatically at a greater risk for heart disease. Consider investing in a home blood pressure monitor so you can keep a closer eye on your numbers in-between doctor visits. If your blood pressure levels tend to be high, engage in exercises like tai chi or yoga which help to regulate your breathing and calm the body and mind, limit your sodium intake and be sure to get a good night’s sleep.
Practice relaxation techniques. Since mental stress increases your risk for heart disease, practicing deep breathing and relaxation techniques could be just what the doctor ordered. In addition to doing tai chi or yoga as mentioned above, starting a regular meditation practice has been scientifically proven to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline, in addition to being an excellent holistic stress buster.
Quit smoking. Not only will it improve your heart health, but quitting smoking will also benefit practically every other organ in your body. Even if you don’t smoke, however, remember that secondhand smoke can be just as detrimental to your health.
Although aging can come with an increased risk for a variety of heart conditions, making even the simplest changes will have a big impact and allow you to maintain your health and independence for many years to come.