Go Red For Women’s Heart Health, the American Heart Association’s initiative to raise awareness about women’s heart health, has been spreading information and saving lives for years. National Go Red For Women’s Heart Health is observed every year in February. To help spread awareness for women's heart health, Williamson Forward has some important information about heart attack symptoms and prevention in women.
“Although the number one symptom in a heart attack is chest pain, women tend to present slightly differently,” says Jessica D Browning, PA-C with Logan Regional Medical Center. “They normally still have chest pain, but they tend to have more GI side effects first, such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.” Women might also experience some anxiety, she says, pointing to “the feeling that something is wrong, but they aren’t quite sure what.”
It’s also important to note that chest pain can look different from person to person, as well as from man to woman. “Chest pain can present in many ways. Pressure, a sharp or dull ache and in women, it tends to radiate more towards the left arm, or might present just as left arm pain.” Women might also experience some neck and left jaw pain, as well as dizziness, weakness, heart palpitations, cold sweats, or shortness of breath.
All in all, when it comes to heart health, “Prevention is key,” Jessica says.”Going to your yearly checkup is the most important thing.” Monitoring blood pressure, and other regular testing of your health, can also prevent cardiac events.
It’s also important to understand risk factors, which include hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes, as well as tobacco use, family history, and obesity. Jessica reminds us, “Not smoking, exercising regularly, and knowing your family’s medical history, and what to look for, are other ways to prevent a cardiac event.”
When it comes to managing your heart health, stress is a factor that can strongly influence your heart health, says Robin Lambert Browning, MA Licensed Psychologist at Appalachian Psychological Associates. “Women need to keep their stress levels in check, because long-term stress increases exposure to the stress hormone known as cortisol,” she says. To manage your stress, try regular exercise and listening to music to relax.
Robin also recommends trying meditation or yoga. “Yoga helps you gather your physical and mental energy to achieve peace of body and mind, and it also lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety and stress levels,” she says. “Take a moment to unplug from all devices, take a deep breath, and clear your mind.”
Reaching out to those you love can also help. “Participating in social activities and spending time with family and friends is another way to relax and unwind to decrease stress,” Robin says. “Just find something that works for you and your heart to decrease stress and gives you joy and peace.”
Want to learn more about Go Red For Women? Check out their site for more information about this month, and more info about heart health.