Heart Disease in Women: Facts and Tips for Prevention

Heart Disease in Women: Facts and Tips for Prevention

Feb 16 2022

February is American Heart Month, the perfect time to think about your heart health.

A healthy heart is something to celebrate – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is actually the number one killer of women in the U.S. each year. Priority Health - Health Condition Management - Heart Disease in Women - Valentines Day 1

Show yourself some love by taking control of your heart health. Know your risk factors, the symptoms of heart disease and what steps you can take to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Understanding heart disease and risk factors in women

Heart disease is often thought of as a man’s disease, but the truth is that one in three women die from heart disease each year, according to the CDC.

But, there’s good news – women can drastically lower their chances of heart disease by making healthy lifestyle choices before reaching old age. Smoking, consuming alcohol, poor eating habits, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress and a previous diagnosis of diabetes can all be risk factors for heart disease later in life.

One proactive step you can take in managing these risk factors is taking advantage of what your health plan offers, often at little or no cost to you.

For example, most health plans cover preventive care at no cost. Take advantage of this benefit by scheduling a biometric screening, cholesterol screening, or routine physical exam. Keep track of your yearly statistics and ask your doctor about what range you should fall within to stay healthy. Some health plans also offer diabetes programs or on-staff care managers to help you manage chronic conditions.

Heart attack symptoms for women

The symptoms of heart disease can be different in men and women. Chest pain is generally the most common symptom of a heart attack, but sometimes a woman can experience a heart attack without chest pains. Here are some other symptoms to be aware of, according to the CDC:

  •        Pain of the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen
  •        Shortness of breath
  •        Pain in your right arm
  •        Nausea or vomiting
  •        Sweating
  •        Lightheadedness, dizziness
  •        Fatigue

Reduce your risk of heart disease and live a healthy lifestyle

Heart disease is the cause of death for 1 in 5 U.S. women. Take a proactive approach and make these healthy lifestyle choices a part of your routine:

  1. Commit to a healthy diet – Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and lean meats and fish.
  2. Quit smoking – There are many resources available through the state and even your health plan to help you quit smoking. Learn more here.
  3. Start an exercise regimen – Regular exercise is good for cardiovascular health, and losing weight  can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol level, lower your risk of diabetes and improve your heart function.
  4. De-stress – Many health plans offer behavioral health resources to help you work through stress, and many of these tools are virtual. Contact your health plan to see what resources may be available. Priority Health members have access to myStrength, a mental wellness tool designed to help with anxiety, sleep, stress and more. Log into your member account to get started.
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