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Women and Heart Health


Reviewed by Kimberly Cabe, FNP-BC of Forum Health Clarkston

The most common cause of heart attacks in women is coronary artery disease, a narrowing of one or more of the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. This narrowing is due to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is thick, waxy, yellowish substance consisting primarily of cholesterol, smooth muscle cells and foam cells. Plaque that clogs your arteries prevent your blood from flowing properly this is referred to as “ischemia” This starves the heart and eventually leads to a heart attack.


Often women don’t realize they are having a heart attack because their symptoms can differ significantly from men’s. Women will usually have a “heart cramp”, which is often a dull, aching discomfort beneath the breastbone not sharp or crushing pain which is more common in men, women have symptoms that come and go with no obvious cause and they may not improve with rest. Women’s symptoms are often misdiagnosed as gastrointestinal distress.


Eating a diet loaded with fruits, veggies, healthy whole grains and lean protein sources, keeping inflammation at bay, exercising, stress reduction and 7 to 8 hours of sleep will help keep your heart healthy, of course limit sugar, alcohol and caffeine. There are specific supplements that can also support heart health that should also be considered.


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