Heart Disease in Young Women: What You Need to Know

Heart disease is often thought of as a man’s disease, but the truth is that it affects just as many women. In fact, more women in the United States die of heart disease and stroke than from all types of cancer combined. A recent article from the NY Times discusses the fact that this disease is now becoming more common in young women.

What can you do to lower your risk? What warning signs mean you should call 911?

Risk Factors in Women

The traditional risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure impact women, but there are some additional things females should be looking for. These risk factors affect more women than men:

Diabetes

Metabolic syndrome

Smoking

Mental stress and depression

Low levels of estrogen after menopause

Lack of physical activity

Pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes

To minimize risk as much as possible, women should avoid smoking, exercise 30 to 60 minutes per day, maintain a healthy weight, and keep a diet low in cholesterol, salt, and saturated fat.

Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke, and Cardiac Arrest

Each of these cardiovascular emergencies presents in different ways. If any of these warning signs are present, it is important that you call 911 immediately.

Heart attack:

Chest discomfort like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach

Shortness of breath

Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness

Stroke

Drooping or numbness on one side of the face

Weakness in one arm

Difficulty speaking, including slurred speech, inability to speak, or speech that is hard to understand

Cardiac Arrest

Sudden loss of responsiveness

No normal breathing

Remember that every second counts, so calling 911 as soon as any of these signs are present is crucial.

If you are at risk for heart disease, speak with your doctor to determine the best methods for prevention. Share this post with the women in your life to educate them on the importance of their heart health.

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