February Is Dedicated To Heart Health

Taking care of yourself has never been more important. Optimal health starts and ends with matters of the heart. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women? Studies show that cardiovascular disease is causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. There are several misconceptions about heart disease in women, and the warning signs for women aren't the same in men.

Let's talk about the cause and steps for prevention to keep in mind:

What causes heart disease? Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Numerous problems can result from this, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.

What symptoms should I look for? Although some women have no symptoms, others may have:

  • Angina (dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort)

  • Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat

  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back

These symptoms may happen when you are resting or when you are doing regular daily activities. Women also may have other symptoms, including:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

Sometimes heart disease may be "silent" and not diagnosed until you have other symptoms or emergencies, including:

  • Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath

  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations)

  • Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins

How can I prevent it? The key takeaway is that heart disease in women can be treated, prevented, and even ended with the right information, education, and care.

Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to improve overall heart health:

Do you have a heart story to share? Support the military hearts that serve. Visit Military Hearts Matter for more information.