Women' s Symptoms Are Different
Although women go to the doctor more frequently than men, women typically wait longer to call for help during a heart attack. That's due in large part to women not knowing when they are experiencing a heart attack. The result is that more women die from a first heart attack than men. Classic symptoms of a heart attack for men include tightening in the chest, often accompanied by pain with numbness down the left arm. For women, the sensations might be much more subtle.
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Physical Inactivity
- Obesity and Overweight
Know the Signs of a Heart Attack
- Chest discomfort, squeezing or tightening
- Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arm
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating and/or clammy feeling
- Indigestion or gas-like pain
- Unexplained weakness or sudden
- Discomfort or pain between the shoulder blades
- Sense of impending doom
If you see someone having any of these symptoms, or if you are having them and can still function, act quickly. Call 911 immediately and say "I think I'm having a heart attack." Painless diagnostic tests can detect narrowing and clots.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 53 seconds. About 600,000 Americans suffer strokes each year. Every 3.3 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Understanding stroke and modifying your lifestyle are key to prevention. Knowing the warning signs may mean the difference between recovery and disability or even life and death.
Most strokes occur when blood can't get to the brain — usually due to an obstruction such as a blood clot. This is called an ischemic stroke. When arteries are narrowed due to a blockage (debris such as fatty deposits), the blood flow is slowed or stopped. When blood fails to reach the brain, a stroke occurs.
Another type of stroke, called a hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a burst or leaking blood vessels in the brain. This, too, prevents blood from getting to the brain.
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)
- High Cholesterol
- Excessive Alcohol Use
Know the Signs of a Stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body
- Sudden slurred speech or difficulty expressing thoughts
- Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Sudden severe headache
- Sudden paralysis
If you see someone having any of these symptoms, or if you are having them and can still function, act quickly. Call 911 immediately and say "I think I'm having a stroke." Painless diagnostic tests can detect narrowing and clots.
Sometimes symptoms are short-lived, lasting from minutes to several hours. This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which indicates a temporary lack of blood to the brain. Your body may adjust itself to the diminished blood supply, and symptoms seem to go away. However, TIAs are dangerous warning signals that a major stroke may be imminent.
- Between 2 million to 3 million Americans have heart failure.
- 400,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
- Heart failure is only slightly more common among men than women.
- Heart failure is twice as common among blacks as whites.
Contrary to how it sounds, heart failure does not mean your heart suddenly stops beating. Heart failure is a chronic condition that usually develops slowly over time as the heart loses its ability to pump. Congestive heart failure is often used to describe all types of heart failure, yet congestion or fluid buildup is just one feature of the disease and may not occur in everyone.
Heart failure is a symptom of underlying heart disease and is closely linked with the major risk factors for heart disease.
- The presence of heart disease
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure (increases the risk of heart failure by 200%)
- Diabetes (2 to 8 times greater risk)
Women with diabetes have a greater risk of heart failure than men with diabetes. Part of the risk comes from diabetes' association with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol levels.
Two Main Types of Heart Failure
Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart is too weak to pump with enough force to push the blood into circulation. Blood coming into the heart from the lungs may back up and cause fluid to leak into the lungs.
Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart cannot properly fill with blood because the muscle has become too stiff to relax. This form may lead to fluid buildup, especially in the feet, ankles and legs.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) often goes hand-in-hand with heart disease — if plaque buildup is in one area, it's common to find it in others. PVD is a buildup of plaque in the vascular system — arteries outside the heart (peripheral) — that reduces the flow of blood from the heart. As a result, some parts of your body don't get enough circulation. Plaque buildup is often not limited to one artery, but may involve arteries in other areas as well. Some of the more commonly affected areas are the legs, arms, kidneys and brain. Some people may have both coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease.
- Obesity (being overweight)
- High blood pressure
- A family history of PVD
- Lack of exercise
- Coronary artery disease
- Over the age of 65
- High cholesterol
Know the Signs of Peripheral Vascular Disease
Symptoms of PVD depend on which artery is affected and how severely the blood flow is reduced. The following symptoms are common:
- Cramping, aching, burning in your calves, hips and buttocks
- Swollen and/or painful feet and legs
- Changes in the color or loss of hair on your feet and legs
- Sores on your feet and legs that will not heal
- Leg pain at night (not leg cramps)
- Lack of feeling (numbness) or tingling sensation
- No detectable or faint pulse in the legs, ankles or feet
- Thick and brittle toenails