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Why Women Are At Higher Risk Of Heart Attack?


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A woman’s heart may look similar to a man’s, but there are significant differences between the two.

In terms of the physical structure, a woman’s heart is usually smaller and some of its interior chambers. The wall that divides these chambers are also thinner. And while a woman’s heart tends to pump faster than a man’s, it also ejects lesser blood for at least 10 per cent for each squeeze.

When a woman is in distress, it can increase pulse rate, causing the heart to pump more blood. When a man is in distress, the arteries on his heart constrict, causing a rise in blood pressure.

These differences matter as gender plays a role in a heart attack’s symptoms, treatments, and outcome.

Heart Attack In Women

A heart attack is a life-threatening event where there is a sudden disruption in the blood flow to the heart. It kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in Australia every year, and it is also the single biggest killer of women worldwide.

In 2017-2018, there were 510,000 women in Australia with cardiovascular disease. About 206,000 of them had coronary heart disease (CHD), which is the primary cause of heart attack.

heart attack

The most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain and discomfort. According to research, women are more likely to experience other symptoms than men, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Other heart attack symptoms may include:

  • Uncomfortable squeezing, pressure, or pain in the centre of the chest. The said feeling may last for a few minutes, and it tends to go away and come back.
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, neck, arms, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath accompanied by chest discomfort.
  • Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Knowing these female-specific symptoms of heart attack can help recognise them sooner. The person may seek medical attention sooner, which can save their life.

First Aid For Heart Attack

Time is a key factor in a heart attack emergency. The longer the blockage remains untreated, the more heart muscles will die and will not recover.

Here are the first aid steps you should do in a heart attack.

1. Call 000.

Do not ignore the symptoms, especially the recurring ones. If you cannot get an ambulance, have a family member, a co-worker, or a neighbour call them for you. Remind the person to be calm and take deep breaths while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

2. Take Medication

It is proven effective to take aspirin while waiting for emergency help. Aspirin helps in keeping the blood from clotting, which can reduce overall heart damage. Do not take aspirin if you have allergies to such medication or have been told by your doctor not to take aspirin.

3. Take Nitroglycerin (If Prescribed)

If the person exhibits symptoms and suspects, they are having a heart attack, have them take a doctor’s prescribed nitroglycerin. Drink it as directed.

4. Begin CPR

If the person becomes unconscious, begin CPR. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can keep the blood flowing and pulse intact after calling for emergency help.

  • Push hard and fast on the centre of the person’s chest in about 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
  • If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is immediately available on the scene, and follow visual or voice prompts from the device and deliver a shock.

Know Your Risk Factors For Heart Disease

Prevention of heart disease may mean starting to make changes in your lifestyle. A healthy heart requires an action plan and personal commitment.

But where should you start?

A complete health checkup is the best first step to prevent many risk factors. Your doctor can help you determine if you have cardiovascular disease or have a risk of having one. Even if you do not have any of those factors now, it is best to discuss these with your doctor to lessen your chance of developing them.

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