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heart-troubleWould it shock you to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women?

The American Heart Association found that over 42 million women suffered from heart disease in 2004. That same year, over 460,000 women died from the condition. Women’s health has come a long way in recent decades, especially in the realm of educating women about the dangers of breast cancer.

While breast cancer awareness is vitally important, the fact remains that heart disease actually claims more women’s lives than both breast cancer and lung cancer combined!

There are lots of myths out there about women and heart disease.

The fact is this: most people believe men are the primary sufferers of heart disease.  But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about the same number of American women die of heart disease each year as American men.

It’s so important that women educate themselves about their heart health, especially because of all of the misconceptions out there – even among the medical community! In addition to the myth that women don’t suffer from heart disease as often as men, there’s also a little-known fact that one out of five women will experience completely different heart attack symptoms than men.

That can lead to lack of proper alarm on the part of the woman suffering the attack, but also a mis-diagnosis at the hospital. That’s why in addition to proper heart attack prevention, women also need to learn about some of the lesser-known heart attack symptoms they may experience.

Typical Heart Attack Symptoms

The following symptoms are reported among nearly all men who suffer heart attacks. Roughly 4 out of 5 women who suffer heart attacks will report some combination of these symptoms as well. It’s important to know and listen to your body at all times, especially when you believe you may be suffering from these:

  • Immense chest pain; often feels as if someone is “sitting on” you
  • Pain in the left arm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadednes

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Roughly one out of every five women who have a heart attack will experience some or all of the following symptoms, which aren’t always commonly thought of as heart attack indicators:

  • Indigestion (with pain sometimes going all the way to the back)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

Heart attack prevention should be a staple to every woman’s life – including eating right, exercising and getting regular check-ups with your doctor. But knowing those heart attack red flags – including the lesser-known gender specific ones, is just as critical.

So is sticking up for your convictions. If you feel you might be having a heart attack, even if you’re not having that typical elephant-on-your-chest feeling, you still have every right to go to the hospital and ask for a diagnosis. And if a doctor dismisses you, stand firm until you’re heard.

To love our bodies, we need to know them. Learn the facts about women and heart disease – that we suffer from it just as much as men, and that we can suffer differently from men, too. Give your heart some lovin’!

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