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The Impact of Gender on Heart Health

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In this day and age, it has been proven again and again that women are just as capable as men are at performing nearly any activity with the right mind-set and the right amount of work. We learn not to compare one person to another by gender, but rather, the skills the character traits and skills they possess. So why are we even bringing up gender differences in this blog? Well, men’s and women’s bodies are still different. Their anatomical and physiological natures lend them to experiencing the same conditions in different ways and it’s important to shed some light on that.

How does gender play a role in heart health? Let’s take a look:

  1. Hormones:
  2. Women have higher levels of estrogen which affects every system in the body, including the cardiovascular system. The presence of it has an impact on cholesterol levels, for example. It increases HDL and decreases LDL levels, which is a good thing for heart health. In addition, it helps vessels in the body to relax which increases blood flow and eats up all the bad free radicals floating around in the blood. This is a pretty great deal- one little hormone protects women against heart disease. However, this doesn’t last forever and women should be prepared for when menopause comes because estrogen levels drop during this time.

  3. Women are at risk for heart attack in their later years:
  4. Once menopause strikes, estrogen levels drop. This means that the once-trusted servant who protected women against many heart disease risks has retired and packed his bags. The woman has now lost one level of defence and has to watch her cholesterol intake like she didn’t have to before. If she doesn’t get informed about this change and does tend to eat a diet high in LDL, she may put herself in danger of heart disease.

  5. Heart attack symptoms differ between men and women.
  6. While in men the symptoms may feel more sharp and sudden- such as a sharp pain in

    the chest, for women, the symptoms emerge more gradually and less noticeably. For example, activities that weren’t energetically taxing before, may all of a sudden feel make the woman exhausted.

    While pressure in the chest is possible, a woman can also experience a heart attack with no pressure in her chest. However, if she does, she may experience it in their lower chest or right above the abdomen, unlike men who experience it across the chest.

    Other symptoms in women include feeling lightheaded, fainting, or upper back tightness.

  7. Don’t wait for it to happen, take preventative measures
  8. In addition to healthy dietary and lifestyle changes, there is no definitive way of knowing whether you are at risk for a heart attack. It is imperative that, no matter what your gender is, you come in for routine screenings to assess your heart health and to determine whether your lifestyle choices are benefiting or harming you. By the time you start noticing any symptoms, it could be too late. So, do your due diligence and schedule an appointment with us at North Suffolk Cardiology by dialing 631-941-2000 to be armed with the proper tools to protect you from heart disease.

However, if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.

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