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Heart Health Women vs. Men

There are many differences between men and women (Venus and Mars, anyone?), but we’ll leave those to Dr. Ruth and Dr. Phil!

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women? Heart attacks do not discriminate - women are just as likely to have a heart attack as men are. But women are more likely than men to die from one. 

Men and women display different anatomy and physiology, from the lungs and brain to muscles and joints. Did you know that men and women also have differences in their cardiovascular systems? Compared to men, women have smaller hearts and narrower blood vessels. Studies show survival often comes down to recognizing heart attack symptoms - or not.

As a result of these biological differences, heart disease can progress differently in women compared to men. Researchers have learned that heart attack symptoms can be very different, especially for men and women. Although having crushing chest pain is not unusual for women experiencing a heart attack, more often than not, they have a combination of less-recognized symptoms such as:
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
Women tend to attribute those symptoms to non-life-threatening conditions that are not heart-related, such as acid reflux, the flu, or even stress and anxiety. Rather than getting medical care, women are more likely to wait it out, hoping symptoms go away, with heart-damaging and life-threatening consequences.

Other, more typical signs generally experienced by men (women - don’t ignore these signs either!) include:
  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs. Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
We’re all familiar with the saying, “If you see something, say something,” and we want to give you another phrase to consider. “If you feel something, do something” - being in tune with your body and any changes is so important.

One of the most important steps to improve your heart health is taking control of your diet. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, limiting salt and added sugar. Not sure how to do this? We can help. At Plantable, we have all the tools for success under one roof, including delicious, nutrient-rich, satisfying meals, one-on-one coaching, and the support and resources you need to achieve your goals. Check out Plantable programs.