The IndUS Network e-magazine
Entertainment, Edutainment, Enrichment ™

How deep is a women's heart?

Women's heart health awareness


A woman’s heart is as deep as an ocean” is what everyone knows, but how deep is our understanding on women’s heart health?

There is a widespread misconception that heart disease is a male problem, but heart disease is also a devastating health issue for females. In fact, heart disease leading to heart attack is the leading cause of death for American women that is more than the deaths caused by all types of cancers put together. According to the authors of the American Heart Association (AHA) report, now 56 percent of women are aware that heart disease is the number one killer comparing to just 30 percent awareness back in 1997.

How different are women from men regarding heart disease and symptoms?

The normal adult human heart is about the size of a closed fist. On an average, the adult female heart is about two-thirds the dimensions of the adult male heart. On the basis of weight, the male heart ranges from 280 to 340 grams and the female heart ranges from 230 to 280 grams.

Heart disease in men and women has many similarities, but also some important differences. One fact is true that heart disease is the single leading cause of death in both men and women though this is a highly preventable condition. Women tend to experience heart disease at least 10 years later than men, so they tend to have a worse prognosis of the heart disease once the disease becomes identified. Also, surgeries for heart disease in women can be more difficult.

Heart attacks are generally more severe in women than in men. In the first year after a heart attack, women are 50% more likely to die than men are. In the first 6 years after a heart attack, women are almost twice as likely to have a second heart attack.

Women also may experience different symptoms of heart disease compared to men. But for both, the most common symptom of heart disease is chest pressure. Women, however, may not experience a crushing chest pain, but more subtle symptoms like stomach upset, fatigue, nausea, headaches, jaw pain and shortness of breath, which are all atypical symptoms of heart disease, which happen because women tend to have blocks not only in their main arteries, but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart (small vessel heart disease or microvascular disease). In this scenario, it is very important to educate women on the heart disease risks and symptoms and it is very critical not to delay reaching the hospital in case of a heart attack, because the longer the delay, the lower the chances of survival.

Causes of heart disease:

The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself). This is called coronary artery disease which builds up slowly over time. This is the major cause for a heart attack. Other heart diseases may be a heart valve problem, a pumping problem leading to heart failure, or congenital defects of the heart.

Risk factors for heart disease in women: Risk factors are those conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop or increase the chances of developing heart disease. Irrespective of age, women with family history of heart disease must pay close attention to risk factors.

1. Metabolic syndrome, i.e., high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, excess abdominal fat, all together, have a greater impact on women than on men.

2. Low levels of estrogen after menopause naturally or early menopause through hysterectomy is a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels (small vessel heart disease). The younger women are, however, more protected from coronary heart disease than men because the hormone estrogen keeps a healthy cholesterol level, keeps the blood vessels dilated until the estrogen levels drop after menopause.

3. Smoking is a greater risk factor in women than men for heart disease.

4. Depression and stress affect women’s hearts more than men's. Because of depression, a healthy lifestyle maintenance or prompt treatment follow-up becomes difficult.

5. Father or brother, having a heart attack before age 55, and/or mother or sister having a heart attack before age 65 means there is a family history risk factor for heart disease.

6. Some disease conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can also increase a woman's risk of heart disease.

7. Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) may result in increased cardiovascular risk for women, especially in those with other risk factors such as smoking.

How to alleviate the risk factors for heart disease?

Though the family history and menopausal factor are irreversible, all other risk factors are quite reversible. A healthy lifestyle change should improve a woman’s heart more than a man’s. These include:

1. Exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day on all days of the week.

2. Maintaining a healthy weight.

3. Stopping smoking and drinking.

4. Eating a diet low in salt, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

5. Taking the prescribed medications appropriately, such as the blood pressure medications, blood thinners, aspirin, etc.

6. Managing appropriately the other co-morbid conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

7. Adding supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, if advised.

8. Choosing the right physician who is experienced in treating women’s heart disease, since women experience more delays in care, and are less likely to receive the preventive or follow-up care compared to men.

So, the bottom line is to aim at preventing heart disease through lifestyle changes; with appropriate Diet-Exercise-Drugs

Listen to the recent study about “Calcium Supplements Increase Risk of Heart Attack & Stroke”

Watch the Video: Calcium Supplements Increase Risk of Heart Attack & Stroke

A BIG Thank You for your feedback ... Keep it flowing :-)



"Interesting and quite informative about health"


"This edition is very good we like the tips for health and positive thinking. plz keep it up"


Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.