Symptoms of heart complaints in women often differ from those in men

Symptoms of heart complaints (such as a heart attack) are often different in women than in men and are often less clear. It therefore often happens that a woman experiences a heart attack without knowing it, and GPs also tend to miss the diagnosis because the symptoms often correspond to menopausal complaints. More and more people are dying as a result of heart problems, especially women. It is therefore important that advice is sought from the GP in case of vaguer complaints that persist for a longer period of time.

Heart complaints in women

  • Heart complaints in women
  • Causes of heart complaints
  • Symptoms of heart complaints in women and men during a heart attack
  • High bloodpressure
  • Factors that can cause or worsen cardiovascular disease
  • What can you do to reduce the risk?

Heart complaints in women

The number one cause of death in women is cardiovascular disease. Heart problems are also more common in women than in men. Unfortunately, the complaints that women may have are not properly interpreted. They are often attributed to menopause , with the associated complaints. Until their menopause, which usually occurs from the age of 45 and older, women are reasonably protected against developing heart disease by the female hormone estrogen . This hormone has a protective effect against arteriosclerosis and the blood vessels remain in good condition. During menopause, hormone levels fluctuate and this also affects your sugar balance. This together influences the cholesterol level in the blood, which often increases.

Causes of heart complaints

Heart problems often arise from arteriosclerosis , the arteries become narrowed and cause a shortage of oxygen-rich blood in the heart. There is often a big difference in the way arteriosclerosis occurs in men and women:

  • In men , a large branch of the coronary arteries is often narrowed, which is easy to detect during a cardiac catheterization.
  • This process often takes place differently in women . The coronary arteries become narrowed more often over a longer period and the smaller vessels also become narrowed. We also call this micro vascular syndrome. This process is much more difficult to detect and is therefore often missed.

Symptoms of heart complaints in women and men during a heart attack

In men, the most noticeable symptom of a myocardial infarction is chest pain , which affects the person who suffers from it. In women, not everyone experiences this clear symptom. More than 30% of women experience some of the following symptoms;

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Pain in the back, armpit, upper abdomen or left side of the jaw
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness, which occurs suddenly
  • Flu-like complaints
  • Bad sleeping
  • Feelings of anxiety

High bloodpressure

Many people walk around with high blood pressure. You generally feel little or nothing, but it is dangerous. When blood pressure is high, the heart has to work hard to pump blood. A lot of pressure is also exerted on the blood vessels. Symptoms of high blood pressure may include:

  • Headache
  • Sweat a lot
  • Palpitations
  • Sleep disorder

The annoying thing is that these complaints also occur with menopausal complaints or are experienced in stressful situations . As a result, cardiovascular disease is not immediately considered.

Factors that can cause or worsen cardiovascular disease

  • Diabetes
  • High bloodpressure
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Hereditary factors
  • Pregnancy associated with high blood pressure and/or diabetes

What can you do to reduce the risk?

  • Try to lose weight if you are overweight
  • Stop smoking
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol
  • Exercise every day, preferably for at least half an hour and preferably outside
  • Don’t use too much salt
  • Try to avoid stress
  • Eat a varied and not too fatty diet

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  • Am I having a heart attack, or is it something else?