Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for African American and white women in the United States? Only slightly more than half of women in the country are aware of that statistic.
At Monarque Health & Wellness, we use functional medicine that focuses on preventing heart disease — and other diseases — from occurring. We urge women to have regular annual physical examinations that include regular blood pressure screenings and extensive lab tests to detect disease early.
We offer nutritional and weight-loss counseling as well as sleep studies as part of our functional medicine approach. These strategies help you engage in healthy habits that prevent heart disease and other diseases from gaining a foothold in your body.
Know the symptoms of heart disease in women
Some of the symptoms of heart disease in women are different from those in men. Sometimes women have no symptoms until a major health event such as a heart attack, which is why it’s so important to have regular physical exams. That way, if blood work or your blood pressure is abnormal, your provider can work with you to correct the issue led to the abnormal reading.
Common symptoms of heart disease in women include:
- Pain or discomfort in your chest
- Pain in your neck, jaw, or throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- A feeling excessive fatigue
The following symptoms indicate that you are having a heart event. If any of these occur, call 911:
- Significant chest pain, upper back or neck pain
- Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting
- Extreme fatigue, dizziness, or shortness of breath
- Chest palpitations, which signal arrhythmia (when your heart beats in irregular patterns)
- Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins, which may signal heart failure
Steps to prevent heart disease
Below are common-sense steps to take to help prevent heart disease.
Know your blood pressure
Monitor your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is more than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80). High blood pressure doesn’t have symptoms, so the only way to know is by taking a reading. That’s why it’s called the “silent killer.”
Control your weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. It also increases your risk of high blood pressure or hypertension.
Eat healthy foods
A big part of controlling your weight is establishing healthy eating habits. There are many online sources and tools to help you know which foods to buy at the grocery store and which to avoid.
Eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry without the skin, fish, and lean cuts of meat are the building blocks of a healthy diet. Limit or eliminate the following to control your risk for heart disease:
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Saturated fats found in fatty beef, lamb, poultry with skin, butter, and cheese
- Processed foods
If you and your husband drink the same amount of alcohol, you will have a higher level of alcohol in your blood than he does, and the effects last longer. Women metabolize alcohol less efficiently than men, and your brain is more at risk if you drink excessively. Drinking while pregnant increases the chance of losing the baby and the child having developmental delays.
Moderate alcohol use for a woman is defined as one 5-ounce glass of wine per day or one 12-ounce beer. If you’re a wine lover, you may be pouring much more than 5 ounces of wine into your large red wine glass. You can buy glasses with a 5-ounce mark to help you know when to stop pouring.
If you smoke, you’re up to four times more likely to contract heart disease than nonsmokers. That risk increases when you’re on birth control pills. Did you know that secondhand smoke can also cause heart disease? In other words, your habit can hurt those around you.
Your Monarque Health & Wellness provider can connect you to a smoking cessation program and follow up with you to ensure you’re on the right track.
Call or book an appointment online with Monarque Health & Wellness for a functional approach to medicine that focuses on prevention.