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Heart Disease Symptoms: Is There a Gender Divide?

By Manpreet Dhalla, 9:00 am on

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. The American Heart Association reports one in three women die of heart disease each year. Cardiac symptoms experienced by women are often different than those experienced by men.

Healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, professional home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

Common Male Cardiac Symptoms

  • Intense chest pain and pressure
  • Pain radiating from the chest to the shoulders, arms, neck, and jaw
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting 
  • Sweating

Female Cardiac Symptoms

Women may experience the same symptoms as men, albeit milder. Common abnormal cardiac signs experienced by women include: 

  • Indigestion or feeling bloated
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Aching or tightness in the chest, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or throat
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheaded
  • Sleep pattern disturbances
  • Unusual fatigue

Symptoms may begin during physical activity, while resting, or when experiencing stress. Some women never experience symptoms before a heart attack. It is important for older women to have regular physical examinations to determine cardiovascular risk factors. 

Aging women with heart disease may be at greater risk for dementia or other forms of cognitive decline. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Anatomical Differences

An article published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association states that the right ventricle in a woman’s heart is smaller than the same ventricle in a man’s. Therefore, when the right ventricle fails in women, the damage is more severe. Although women develop heart disease later in life compared to men, the anatomical difference increases the likelihood. 

Physicians also learned vascular disease develops differently in men and women. When plaque formation develops in a man’s blood vessels, the blockage is typically confined to one specific location. Men experiencing cardiac symptoms are required to undergo an angiogram. After injecting an intravenous dye, cardiologists can locate the blockage by watching the path of blood flow. 

However, plaque development in women is much different. The sludge tends to gradually form a lining along the inside of a blood vessel. The plaque creates a coating without causing a complete blockage. Plaque formation also tends to develop in the smaller vessels, whereas in men, the problem typically occurs in larger vessels. 

In the past, if a woman experienced cardiac symptoms and underwent an angiogram, the problem was not visible because the smaller vessels were overlooked and the plaque formation did not completely block the vessel. Women were misdiagnosed and their symptoms attributed to less serious conditions. Without proper treatment, women lived with heart disease, which often proved fatal. 

Women experiencing possible cardiac disease symptoms should undergo multiple tests to properly diagnose the problem. These tests include: 

  • Blood tests, including cholesterol and calcium level evaluations
  • CT scan
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiography
  • MRI

Oxygen deficits and inflammation caused by heart disease may greatly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in aging adults. If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Galt Ocean Mile seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. For more information on our elder care services, call one of our experienced Care Managers today at (954) 909-0370.

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