Women and heart disease

Heart disease is a medical term that refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack. Although they are thought to happen more common amongst men, almost as many women as men died of heart disease in Malaysia. Nearly two-thirds of women who died from heart disease had no previous symptoms.

Coronary Artery Disease
Defined as a blockage of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. The mortality rates are on the rise in women between the ages of 35 - 54 years old.

Heart Attack
Also known as myocardial infarction, a heart attack occurs when part of the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood, which in turn causes damage to the heart muscle.

Why is heart disease high in women?

Women have smaller arteries compared to men, so coronary artery disease develops differently for women. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women not only in the United States but in Malaysia too.

What are the symptoms?

Although some may not show any symptoms, others may have included:

  • Angina (dull and sharp chest pain or discomfort)
  • Pain in the neck, jaw and throat
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back.
  • Nause, vomiting and fatigue

‘Silent’ and undiagnosed heart disease may occur until other symptoms as below are shown:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Indigestion, heartburn and nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Upper body discomfort and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Arrhythmia; fluttering feelings (palpitations) in the chest
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen or neck veins

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

The most common risk factors are high blood pressure, high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and smoking.

Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease as well, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity (overweight)
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

It is important to avoid the risk factors above and practice a healthy diet and exercise routine to lower your chances of getting heart disease. Managing your stress level by doing healthy activities that help you to cope with stress will be beneficial as well.

If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, make an appointment for your next health screening. Find out how Regency’s medical experts can support your health with a wide range of sub-specialties in our Women & Children Centre of Excellence.

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