Signs & Symptoms: What’s Your CVD IQ?
Heart disease is often called the “silent killer,” and this can be especially true for women because of several factors:
- The warning signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are different for women than they are for men—and can be far less obvious
- Women often don’t know the symptoms of CVD or they deny, ignore, or fail to notice the signs
- 64% of women who die suddenly of heart disease have no prior history of CVD 1
- Women have more heart attacks that go unrecognized 2
For all of these reasons, heart disease in women is much more difficult to diagnose and often goes untreated. So it’s vitally important to be aware of the warning signs. The simple fact is, the more you know about the symptoms of CVD, the better prepared you’ll be to take control of your heart health—and save your own life.
You may know the common warning signs of a heart attack—from tightness, pressure, burning, and squeezing in the chest area to discomfort in one or both arms—but you should also be aware of these symptoms of CVD:
Pain/ache in upper back, jaw or neck
Shortness of breath
Flu-like symptoms: nausea or vomiting, cold sweats
Fatigue or weakness
Feeling of anxiety, loss of appetite, discomfort 3
If you even suspect you are experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor. Don’t take chances—ask more questions and see another doctor if necessary. In short, be heart smart.
1. AHA, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2009 Update, Dallas, TX: American Heart Association; 2008
2. Soci Sci Med 2001;52:1565; Am J Crti Care 1998;7:175; www.womenheart.org; Nohria, Vaccarino, and Krumholz, 1998. Nursing Clinics; 16 (1) 45-57; Circulation. 2003;107:2096-2101
3. Noel Bairey Merz, MD: Gender Differences in Atherosclerosis and Coronary Heart Disease: A perspective from the WISE Study: ACC March 6, 2004
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