Women More Vulnerable to Heart Attack Death?
By David Martin, RN, CEO of VeinInnovations
Today, and for the next couple of weeks, we’re looking at three new reports, two from the American Heart Association and one from a research team in Canada, to see what observations, questions, and conclusions one could draw from looking at a compilation of the data about heart health, gender, and gender roles.
The first conclusion: When it comes to heart heath – and how the male and female hearts function under stress – women have a tougher go, as do men who take on the traditional “female role” in relationships.
In the American Heart Association reports – one dealing with mortality, the second with women, anatomy, and heart disease –one big takeaway is in how much needs to be done with regard to educating the medical community and women themselves about the differences in men’s and women’s heart disease and symptoms.
In the third report, released by a team from McGill University Health Center in Canada, a study of gender role and its impact on heart health spotlights unique challenges for men who take on the usual female role of nurturer in relationships.
First, more about the AHA’s reports:
In tandem with their perennial Valentine’s push to have women Go Red for Women’s Heart Health, the American Heart Association statistical report affirms heart disease as the number-one killer in America, and the fact that one-in-three women will die of heart disease.
The AHA Heart and Stroke Statistical Update 2016, reports “nearly 801,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in 2013. This gender-wide disease is an equal opportunity disorder, but it is important to note that greater than half of those afflicted were women.”
While we can celebrate the decline in women’s cardiovascular deaths over the past decade, heart disease continues to be the number-one cause of death for both genders. Further, the AHA Scientific Statement of January 25, 2016, data show how women’s heart disease is decidedly different, especially as is related to African American women, who are less likely to be referred for treatment. These differences, when looked at with regard to stress and diet, do not bode well for women.
And this is where the third report, a new pan-Canadian study led by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), evokes even more questions.
The Canadian study suggests that gender role, rather than sex, is associated with the risk of recurrence of cardiovascular events in adults, concluding that women, or men fulfilling the “traditionally female role”, are more likely to have another heart attack after their first heart attack than men who are in the more traditional male role.
So is it
a. nature – the anatomical differences in men and women
b. stress – the presumed increased degree of stress carried by women, or men in the traditional female role,
c. both nature and stress
that accounts for women being more vulnerable to heart attacks than previously thought?
As there is a lot to share from these reports, this will be a multi-part post. For today, I’ll close with information that may save a life: how woman’s heart attack presents differently from a man’s, so you’ll know the warning signs.
Women’s Heart Attacks: Warning Signs
While chest pain is a primary heart attack symptom for both men and women, women often have atypical, vague symptoms without the usual chest pain, such as:
• Pain in the back
• Shoulder or jaw
• Some women may only experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or flu like symptoms
Knowing the symptoms of heart attack – in both men and women – is vitally important. A common bottom line is this: If you have any questions or doubts about whether you or a loved one is having a heart attack, don’t waste time wondering. Call 911. It’s a lot more fun to laugh about a false alarm than it is to cry about ignoring a valid warning sign.
Next week, we’ll check in with a local heart expert, and gain more insight as to why the role women play has such an impact on their anatomy and their increased likelihood of heart disease.
New statistics show one of every three U.S. deaths caused by cardiovascular disease http://blog.heart.org/new-statistics-show-one-of-every-three-u-s-deaths-caused-by-cardiovascular-disease/
A woman’s heart attack causes, symptoms may differ from a man’s
Heart attack: Gender matters in predicting outcomes Gender role more important than biological sex in predicting health outcomes after heart attack