Avera Medical Minute AHH: How heart disease affects women differ - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AHH: How heart disease affects women differently

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No one plans on having a heart attack but if one were to strike, would you even know it? Symptoms can vary slightly from person to person, but gender to gender it can be a stark difference.

It doesn't take long for anyone to notice the difference between men and women. Looking from the inside out, when it comes to heart disease the genders are equally as different.

"Initial studies done on heart disease were all done on men so we really didn't know how to identify and treat heart disease in women or have any idea that it was any kind of a different disease in women." Said Dr. Jeff Anderson, an emergency physician at the Avera Heart Hospital.

In fact, right now heart disease is deadlier for women. A big reason is because the symptoms tend to be more subtle.

"Men will often have the typical exertion angina chest pain and sweating with exertion. Women more often times will have pain at rest or just a vague burning sensation in the chest rather than a classic crushing heavy chest pain." Said Dr. Anderson.

A recent PSA from the American Heart Association uses plenty of humor to point out a woman's heart attack symptoms. The delivery may be comical but the message is serious. Many women aren't much different from the one in the video and may not even realize they are having a heart attack.

"It can just be a little shortness of breath or perhaps some dizziness maybe some sweating. Women can even present with a silent MI or silent heart attack with absolutely no chest pain whatsoever just fatigue." Said Dr. Anderson.

Risk of heart disease has a lot do with genetics. You can't choose your parents or your family history but risk factors like smoking and obesity can be taken care of.

"We like to try to focus on the modifiable risk factors staying in shape eating right getting cholesterol down not smoking on modifiable risk factors are of value because we want to watch those people more closely." Said Dr. Anderson.

It's no secret men are more stubborn and are more likely to hide behind their pride when choosing to go to the doctor. But women are just as bad, they tend to focus on others and may even downplay symptoms.

"Women are caretakers and often times their concern about someone else and their symptoms seem to come last we need to pay close attention and make sure that woman take care of themselves." Said Dr. Anderson.

So ladies, that pain in your jaw, neck or back. Don't assume it's just from the gym or a little extra stress. It could be your heart saying let's go get some help.

The American Heart Association has spent more than $3.3 billion on research, to increasing our knowledge and understanding about heart disease and stroke especially in women. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.

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