Women – Let your heart rule your head

You might be surprised to know that the number one cause of death for women in Australia is heart disease. In fact, heart disease is three times more likely than breast cancer to kill women.

Two important reasons why heart disease might be less recognised amongst women include:

  • Women usually start to develop symptoms at a later stage of the illness compared to men, most commonly after menopause (>50 years old).
  • Symptoms in women may be less obvious than men, such as in a heart attack (see below).

What to do?

Go see your GP for a heart health check, which involves checking for risks and doing blood pressure and cholesterol checks.

The best advice for heart disease prevention includes: not smoking, doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times a week, eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and having a healthy weight. Some women may also require treatments such as cholesterol or blood pressure lowering medications.

Heart attack

It’s important that you know the typical symptoms of a heart attack in women. These symptoms are more likely to occur without chest pain in women compared to men and may be more easily overlooked. They can include:

  • Ache or pain in your upper back, jaw or neck
  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Sudden overwhelming fatigue or weakness
  • Nausea, vomiting, cold sweats that are flu-like
  • Sudden anxiety, loss of appetite or feeling generally unwell

If you suspect that you are having the symptoms of a heart attack, Ring 000 or get to a hospital immediately. The sooner you receive medical help, the greater your chances of survival and a return to normal living.

For more information: Heart Foundation www.heartfoundation.org.au 1300 362 787

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