Do Heart Disease Symptoms Differ by Gender?

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. The American Heart Association reports one in three deaths among women each year are due to heart disease. Cardiac symptoms women experience are often different from those men experience. Here’s a closer look at some of the warning signs for each gender.

Cardiac Symptoms in Men

Men are more likely to develop heart disease than women, and they also experience higher rates of heart attacks. Heart disease symptoms in men are determined by different variables, including where the damage has occurred. The most common signs of heart disease in men include:

  • Intense chest pain and pressure 
  • Pain radiating from the chest to the shoulders, arms, neck, and jaw 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Heartburn 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fainting
  • Sweating 

Heart disease can often be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle practices. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Cardiac Symptoms in Women

Women may experience the same symptoms as men, albeit milder. In addition, common abnormal cardiac signs women experience include:

  • Indigestion or feeling bloated 
  • Abdominal discomfort 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Aching or tightness in the chest, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or throat 
  • Palpitations 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Sleep pattern disturbances 
  • Unusual fatigue 

Symptoms may begin during physical activity, while resting, or when experiencing stress. Some women never experience symptoms before they have heart attacks. It’s important for older women to have regular physical examinations to determine their cardiovascular risk factors. 

Heart disease is one of the most common health issues among aging adults. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional senior home care. Montgomery families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Anatomical Differences 

An article published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association states that the right ventricle in a woman’s heart is smaller than the same ventricle in a man’s heart. Therefore, when the right ventricle fails in women, the damage is more severe. Although women develop heart disease later in life than men do, this anatomical difference increases its likelihood.

Physicians have also learned vascular disease develops differently in men and women. When plaque formation develops in a man’s blood vessels, the blockage is typically confined to one specific location. Men experiencing cardiac symptoms are typically required to undergo angiograms. After injecting intravenous dye, cardiologists can locate the blockage by watching the path of blood flow.

However, plaque development in women is much different in that it tends to gradually form a lining along the inside of a blood vessel. The plaque creates a coating without causing a complete blockage. Plaque formation also tends to develop in the smaller vessels, whereas in men, the problem typically occurs in larger vessels.

In the past, if a woman experienced cardiac symptoms and underwent an angiogram, the problem often wasn’t visible because the smaller vessels were overlooked and the plaque formation didn’t completely block the vessels. As a result, women were misdiagnosed, their symptoms were attributed to less serious conditions, and they didn’t receive proper treatment, which often proved fatal. 

Women experiencing possible cardiac disease symptoms should undergo multiple tests to properly diagnose the problem. These tests include:

  • Blood tests, including cholesterol and calcium level evaluations 
  • CT scans 
  • Echocardiograms 
  • Electrocardiograms 
  • MRIs

Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Montgomery seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. If you need professional care for your senior loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (334) 593-3988.


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