Many people are aware of the risk factors and symptoms associated with heart disease, but did you know that cardiac issues surface differently in men and women?

Go Red Wear Red Day (and month) primarily focuses on heart disease in women because females possess an additional number of risk factors associated with the illness that men do not, such as higher rates of anxiety and depression, hormone changes and hypertension during menopause, and more instances of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. All of these conditions can be linked to heart disease, so it’s especially important for women to keep up healthy habits as prevention and to stay on guard for warning signs of cardiac trouble. However, despite the higher risk and seriousness of these issues, according to the American Heart Association: “nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented.” So take heart and read on!

Along with the classic lifestyle habits associated with good health, such as regular exercise, stress management, and a balanced diet, here are a few more tips to promote a healthy heart:

•  Lose excess abdominal fat that surrounds internal organs

•  Properly manage diabetes (if applicable)

•  Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels

•  Address any sleeping issues you may have, such as sleep apnea

•  Ask your doctor about an ankle-brachial index test to check for periphery arterial disease, which is a serious but less acknowledged cardiac problem

•  Get a flu shot, as studies show that at-risk individuals are six times more likely to experience a heart attack the week after an influenza bout

It’s also crucial to recognize that the symptoms of cardiac events can differ between genders as well. Beyond the basic warnings of a heart attack, such as chest pain, women may also experience:

•  Indigestion

•  Shortness of breath

•  Nausea

•  Back, neck, or jaw pain

It’s possible for a woman to suffer a heart attack without any chest pain at all. If you or a loved one are at high risk for heart disease, please do not dismiss even the simplest of signs, as it’s better to cover your bases than to ignore what could potentially be a life-threatening situation.

For more info, check out this article from Johns Hopkins. And remember to wear red on February 7th for National Wear Red Day!

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