Common Types of Heart Problems
Our hearts work for us 24/7, powering us through good and bad days alike. Over time, the heart naturally develops wear and tear, so it’s important to practice good heart health throughout life! The symptoms of heart conditions differ between men and women. Let’s take a look at the signs of heart problems in women.
All of the following types of heart problems exist for both men and women.
- Arrhythmia – An arrhythmia is when the heart beats with an abnormal rhythm – either too fast (Tachycardia) or too slow (Bradycardia). Some cases are harmless, while others can become life-threatening.
- Cardiac Arrest – Sometimes the term ‘cardiac arrest’ is used in place of ‘heart attack’, but they are actually very different things. Cardiac Arrest is when your heart unexpectedly stops beating.
- Cardiovascular Disease – Cardiovascular disease is also known as ‘Heart Disease’. Over time, plaque develops in the arteries, a condition called Atherosclerosis. Heart attacks or strokes may occur when blood can no longer pass through the veins.
- Heart Attack – Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart is blocked, preventing oxygen from flowing to the heart.
- Heart Failure – Heart failure is not the same as cardiac arrest, as the heart doesn’t necessarily stop pumping. Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood for the body’s needs.
Heart conditions tend to develop with age, although lifestyle and genetics can be contributing factors as well.
Signs of Heart Problems in Women
You may be surprised to learn the that symptoms of heart problems differ between men and women. Men generally experience chest pain, pain travelling down or in the left arm, and pain or weakness in the arms or legs, although this is not a comprehensive list.
Women can experience chest pain and other ‘classical’ symptoms of heart attack just the same as men do, although this is not true for all women. For the most part, women tend to experience subtler symptoms. Some of these signs include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Lightheadedness or Dizziness
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Pain in the Jaw
- Right Arm Pain
- Stomach or Abdominal Pain
- Upper Back, Shoulder, and/or Neck Discomfort
Women are also more likely to experience what is known as a ‘Silent Heart Attack’. These are heart attacks where the patient may not even be aware they just had a heart attack! There may not be any obvious signs or symptoms at the time.
However, subtler signs and symptoms can become apparent after the fact, including abdominal pain, clammy skin, difficulty exercising, fatigue or tiring easily, and shortness of breath. If you have any questions or concerns about symptoms you may be experiencing, consult your doctor!
Risk Factors for Heart Problems
There are several risk factors which can contribute to the development of heart problems, including:
- Family History
- High Blood Pressure
The following factors can affect both men and women, but tend to affect women more:
- Certain Autoimmune Diseases
- Hypertension During Menopause
- High Testosterone Levels Prior to Menopause
Ways to Reduce the Risk of Heart Problems
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent heart problems, there are many ways you can reduce the risk factors you can control! These largely involve healthy lifestyle choices which reduce the strain on your heart.
- Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes 3 times per week
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a diet which is low in fat, cholesterol, and salt
- Don’t smoke, or quit smoking if you do
- Visit your doctor regularly for checkups and screenings if you have a family history of heart conditions
Florida Medical Clinic
Heart problems can affect both men and women during all stages of life. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about your risk factors, and keep your heart as healthy as you can!
Florida Medical Clinic’s Cardiology Department provides comprehensive outpatient procedures at multiple locations around Tampa, and can accurately diagnose and treat any heart conditions you may have!
It’s always best to err on the side of caution, so don’t hesitate to visit your doctor or go to the hospital if you are experiencing any unusual heart problems. A medical professional will know if you are experiencing heart problems and can determine the proper treatment plan from there.