Despite growing awareness across the globe, in most countries, cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer of women worldwide. We know that self-care is important for our emotional heart health, but what about the physical health of our hearts? In this must-read post, we will discuss some subtle symptoms of heart disease in women that can affect us at any age or stage in life.
Before you read on any further, I need to make one thing truly clear. This article is not written with the intention to create fear or panic. Instead, it is meant to inspire us all to take charge of our health and protect the blessing of it.
Maya Angelou said it best, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Let us all be empowered by the choices we can make to know better and do better. We ladies are the literal givers of life. I’m here to remind you that your life matters too!
5 symptoms of heart disease in women
According to the CDC, many cases of heart disease in women are completely silent with no warning signs until it becomes an emergency situation.
Although it’s not all that uncommon to be without symptoms, there are typically some sneaky, and often overlooked, symptoms of heart disease in women.
Here are some ways your body may be telling you something isn’t quite right.
#1 – Persistent pain in unusual places
We are busy, busy, busy. At times, it feels like we’re trying to save the whole world, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder then that we will experience plenty of days with our typical aches, pains, and sore muscles. This type of pain subsides with rest or some time to simply relax and unwind.
So, when could pain be indicating something more than everyday living? Are there certain types of pain that can be symptoms of heart disease in women specifically? The answer is yes. If you experience the kind of pain described below, it may be time to contact your Physician straight away, or call for emergency assistance, if the pain persists.
Neck, jaw or throat pain –
This kind of pain is often described as a squeezing or aching sensation. Aggravated nerves heighten sensitivity in this area, much like a bad tooth can do. If you are noticing the pain in your neck, jaw or throat worsen with physical activity and lessens with rest – it is time to seek medical attention.
Angina (Pain In your chest) –
The kind of chest pain women experience is slightly different than that of men. Women may experience persistent, dull, heavy, or sharp shooting pain. You may even feel a shortness of breath and find it difficult to breathe deeply.
Angina occurs when the blood flow to your heart is greatly reduced due to plaque build-up in the arteries. The heart muscles then respond by creating a tightness, like a spasm in other parts of the body. Although angina can be caused by other conditions, it can also be a major warning for heart disease or imminent cardiac arrest. Please take this symptom seriously and seek immediate medical care.
Upper back or abdominal pain –
Sudden, sharp, shooting pain is often how this symptom is described. You may feel the pain radiate and spread from your chest area. If this pain is consistent, persistent, and concerning, it is worth mentioning.
Just remember, everyone’s experience with heart-related symptoms will be different. I may experience debilitating pain while yours is hardly noticeable.
If you experience pain that is new, unusual, and upsetting, don’t downplay what you’re feeling. Even if it is absolutely nothing to be concerned about, at least you can have some peace of mind.
#2 Symptoms of heart disease in women – “I’m Exhausted!”
Most of us women are familiar with exhaustion. Our daily lives are overflowing with to-do lists and responsibilities.
Busy lives usually end up leaving us feeling tired and at times, run down. When our batteries are on E and a good night’s sleep or power nap fixes the fatigue – that’s normal!
When could exhaustion be a symptom of heart trouble? Here are just a few warning signs:
- When you are sleeping well for the needed amount of hours at night, but never feel rested
- If your typical activity level, such as cleaning your home, taking a walk, or playing with your pet suddenly make you feel dizzy or short of breath
- It’s new and unfamiliar fatigue. You weren’t feeling like this before.
- You’re finding it suddenly difficult to sleep, but there isn’t any cause you’re aware of.
We all tend to go through ebbs and flows with our sleep schedules and how rested we feel on any given day. The exhaustion only becomes a major concern when the onset is new, severe, or preventing you from functioning in daily life.
#3 – Tummy Trouble
Gut health is becoming more mainstream, for good reason. The health of our digestive tract tells us so much about our overall health.
But did you know tummy trouble can be one of the symptoms of heart disease in women? It’s true! As your heart has difficulty pumping blood to your vital organs, your body chemistry changes.
When your gut goes from an alkaline environment to an acidic one, your stomach will surely show the signs of distress.
Here are some symptoms women may experience:
- Loss of Appetite
If you are feeling an uncomfortably full feeling but haven’t eaten, and don’t feel like eating, this can be a warning sign for heart trouble. Please consider seeking medical attention.
#4 – You feel bloated and sweat a lot
Bloating is a feeling most of us ladies are familiar with. It can be a result of many things, such as too much salt intake, hormonal fluctuations, exercise, or even dehydration.
Bloating associated with heart disease, however, is called edema. Fluid builds up in your body’s tissue and causes swelling. If your feet, ankles, hands, or legs feel swollen, it’s time to find out why.
Along with the swelling, you may find yourself breaking out in ‘cold sweats.’ If you were never really one to sweat before, and it seems someone turned the spigot from your pores on full blast – it’s time to pay attention!
#5 Symptoms of heart disease in women – You’re having a hard time thinking clearly
Our bodies are a delicate balance of electrolytes, sodium, and other critical substances to run like the well-oiled machines they are.
When we are suffering from some form of heart disease, we may find an imbalance in these chemicals creating sudden confusion.
If you are feeling as if you just can’t seem to ‘think clearly,’ or focus on anything anymore, this too can be an important warning sign of something being amiss with your heart health.
It could also simply mean you have been playing Wonder Woman too much lately and need a break! Either way, your health is worth taking care of. Don’t downplay how you feel. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What can I do to prevent heart disease?
Getting checked regularly by your Physician, along with living a healthy lifestyle are critical pieces to the healthy heart puzzle.
You never know what future complications you could prevent by simply being prepared and aware now. It’s true, that saying by Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Simple, small changes can often mean big health gains over time.
Here are 10 guaranteed ways to make your heart a happy one:
- If you smoke, QUIT! Yes, I know, I was a smoker too. It’s easier said than done, but so very worth it!
- Add activity to your day. Start small and work your way up, if needed. You can even exercise on your commute to work!
- Reduce the amount of stress in your life.
- Consider what you’re eating. Is it helping or hurting your health?
- Maintain a healthy weight for your body
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol within healthy limits
- Focus on deep, slow, breathing. It reduces stress and lowers blood pressure, without pills!
- Have an attitude of gratitude. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, we can still look for the 1 thing going right.
- LAUGH! Lots!
- Get plenty of sleep! Even small amounts of sleep deprivation can have lasting consequences.
Your heart matters
There is only one you, and you are needed on this Earth. While I realize there is so much about life we can’t control, there is also a lot we can.
We only get one body. In many ways, our health is like a bank account. We get out of it only what we’ve put into it.
Let’s make sure we make healthy deposits so that we can live our lives with hope, vitality, and passion for many years to come! Join me, will you?
What ways have you bettered your health recently? Has heart disease affected you, or someone you love? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below so we can encourage one another to live our best lives!
Thank you also for sharing this post with your social media family. We ladies need to make our health a priority, so we can continue being the life-givers we were created to be!
About today’s writer on symptoms of heart disease in women
Holly has the heart of an encourager. From living bedridden to a journey toward wholeness, she lives her life by faith. At Wholeness Haven, she seeks to inspire, motivate, stir up faith, and encourage us all to live in wholeness: mind, body, and spirit. She’d love to hear from YOU!
You can find her posts at www.wholenesshaven.com – on Pinterest @wholenesshaven and on Twitter as @opulencepotted