Heart Attacks And The Menopause

Did you know that once you hit menopause you are much more likely to have a heart attack than you were before? This is because the oestrogen in our bodies protects women while we are young, but once we no longer have our periods, our protection decreases.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Women's symptoms differ from men's and are often not recognised even by doctors who are more familiar with the classic chest pain that men report. In fact, less than 30% of women talk about having chest pain before a heart attack. Even during an attack only 57% of women complain of chest pains! According to American research by the U.S. National Institute of Health, 95% of women had warning signs of new or different symptoms in the month leading up to the attack.

Women's Warning Signs

· Unusual Fatigue - 70% of women report feeling unusually tired in the month leading up to their heart attack

· Sleep disturbance - 48% were having sleep problems

· Shortness of breath - 42% complain of shortness of breath in this period

· Indigestion - 39% of women in the study had indigestion

· Anxiety -35% suffer with anxiety

Women's Attack Symptoms

· Shortness of breath - 58% of women had shortness of breath during a heart attack

· Weakness - 55% complained of feeling weak

· Unusual Fatigue - 43% felt unusually tired during a heart attack

· Cold Sweat - 39% of women broke out into a cold sweat

· Dizziness -39% of women also felt dizzy during the heart attack

· A sense of doom - many women report feeling this before or during an attack

· Women can also suffer from anxiety, oedema -that is fluid retention in the feet and ankles, rapid heartbeats or fluttering, nausea, and a feeling of pressure or heaviness in the chest or other chest pain that goes to the arms, especially the left arm

Risk Factors

· A family history of heart disease -especially a sibling

· Postmenopausal -either naturally or because of surgery

· Over 55

· Obesity- being overweight can increase your chances of having heart disease or a heart attack

· Sedentary lifestyle - this is especially a risk factor in women

· Smoking - this is one of the main causes of women having heart attacks before the menopause, especially if they are also on the Pill

· Hypertension -many women over 55 have undetected hypertension

· High cholesterol levels

· High C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels - this factor seems to be more important in women than men

· Hypothyroidism -this can be detected by a simple blood test and is more common in women than men

· Metabolic syndrome - a form of insulin resistance that is a pre-diabetic condition

· Complicated Pregnancy - if you had complications in any of your pregnancies especially preeclampsia it increases your risk of a heart attack

Check Up

If you have several of the risk factors make sure to get a check up from your GP. Ask your doctor for the latest advice in recognising and preventing heart attacks and don't minimise how you feel if you are having heart attack warning signs. Remember to listen to your body and see your doctor if you are worried about your health.

Login to comment

Post a comment