Heart Disease in Men Vs Women
If your idea of a heart attack is a man clutching his chest, there’s a good reason for that. Younger men are far more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than women. Despite this, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, but their symptoms and outcomes are quite different depending on which gender is facing them.
Age and Heart Disease in Men and Women
It’s not clear why men and women first encounter heart disease at different ages. The average age of a first heart attack for men is 65 years old. While the average age of a first heart attack in women is 73.
Some believe it’s due to higher rates of unhealthy habits in men, including smoking and high stress. While women seem to be more susceptible to heart disease after menopause.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Men and Women
The main symptoms of a heart attack can be found in both men and women. These include:
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or back
- Chest pains
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Discomfort or pain in arms or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
Men are more likely to feel nausea or a break out in a cold sweat. Women are more likely to experience extreme fatigue. Women who survive a heart attack often say they thought they just had the flu.
Heart attack survival rates are lower for women than men. This is due in part to women being older when they develop heart disease, but also because women don’t get treatment as fast as men and are less likely to receive or take aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Heart Failure in Men and Women
Heart failure is a condition where the heart doesn’t pump blood effectively. In men, heart failure is typically caused by damage from a heart attack. This damage prevents the heart from contracting as forcefully as it should.
In women, heart failure is generally caused when high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, or another condition prevents the heart from relaxing between beats. When women have this type of heart failure, they generally live longer than men, but they are hospitalized more for shortness of breath and have trouble performing the activities of daily living.
It’s important for both men and women to practice good heart health. Get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight with good blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. If you are a smoker, stop. And if you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or heart disease, don’t wait to get it checked by a physician.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care supports women and men who have been diagnosed with heart disease through our HeartLink program. To learn more about heart disease and hospice, call 1-888-564-3405.
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