10 heart facts all women should know

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Did you know that women experience different heart attack symptoms to men? Check out our list of 10 heart facts that every woman should know:

  1. Different symptoms - Women experience different heart attack symptoms than men. The subtle symptoms in women are: discomfort in the chest; pressure or pain in the upper back, shoulders and neck; abdominal pain; dizziness and fainting; nausea; clammy sweats and heart flutters; an unexplained feeling of anxiety and weakness; fatigue and shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
  2. Heart disease begins later - Heart disease in women progresses over a much longer period than men. A woman’s risk triples after menopause.
  3. Lower survival rate - Women are 50% more likely to die in the first year of a heart attack than men because as research confirms, women wait an average 46% longer to seek emergency treatment for heart attack symptoms.
  4. The Pill increases risk - Oral contraceptive pills increase the risk of blood clots and heart attacks especially in smokers. Other pill complications include: high blood pressure; elevated blood fats; diabetes and damage to the artery walls.
  5. Hysterectomy effects - After a hysterectomy, a woman’s risk increases by 17%.
  6. Moderate drinking only - Heavy drinking increases a woman’s risk by 30% - 3 alcoholic beverages a week (or none) can reduce a woman’s risk of developing high blood pressure.
  7. Marital discord - Conflict between spouses has been linked to a higher risk of heart attack in women aged between 30 and 65.
  8. Higher blood cholesterol – Studies show that women’s cholesterol is higher than men’s from age 55 onwards. High cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease and heart attack!
  9. Hidden disease – Women are more likely than men to have a hidden type of coronary disease in which their heart muscle is starved of oxygen.
  10. Lack of zzzz – Poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep more than two nights a week or taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep are linked to higher levels of fibrinogen, a clotting factor linked to stroke which increases the risk of heart disease.


Join the Go Red for Women movement, a national campaign aimed at creating awareness and reducing the incidence of heart disease and stroke amongst the women of South Africa.

For more information click here or visit the SA Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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