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Women’s Heart Health: Myths and Facts 
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Women’s Heart Health: Myths and Facts 

Women have big hearts. Well, that’s not completely true. Anatomically, the female heart is actually smaller than the male heart. But emotionally, women tend to fill their hearts with love, empathy, and compassion until it overflows, putting time and effort into caring for those around them. That’s a big heart.

Sometimes that means that their own health falls lower on their priority list – especially heart health. Many women don’t even realize how important heart health is to their overall wellness, quality of life, and longevity – until now. It’s time to bust some heart health myths.

1. Myth: Only men should worry about heart health.

Fact: Heart disease affects women, too.

It’s a common misconception that heart disease only affects men. The truth: heart disease doesn’t discriminate. It’s responsible for approximately 1 out of every 5 female deaths, ranking it the number one cause of death for women. But unfortunately, only 56% of women recognize heart disease as a threat to their health. Raising awareness is one of the first steps to protecting your heart and the hearts of your loved ones.

2. Myth: Heart disease affects men and women in the exact same way.

Fact: Heart disease affects men and women differently.

Women have smaller hearts and narrower blood vessels within the cardiovascular system, so it’s not a huge surprise that heart disease may present or progress differently in women than in men.

A heart attack is one of the best examples. Picture the classic symptoms: crushing pain, discomfort, or pressure in the chest. That’s typically what men experience. And while chest pain or pressure is still a common symptom in women, they’re more likely to experience nausea, vomiting, sweating, or pain in the neck, jaw, abdomen, or back.

Myth: Heart disease only affects older women.

Fact: Heart disease can affect younger women, too.

Estrogen seems to be pro-heart. It helps support healthy cholesterol levels and healthy blood flow, offering protection for your heart. The risk for heart disease does seem to increase for women after menopause, possibly because estrogen levels decline at this time.

Although heart problems in younger women are still pretty rare, they’re happening more often. Research has shown that the heart attack rate for older adults has decreased, but it’s increased among those ages 35-54, especially women.

Myth: If nobody else in your family has heart disease, you won’t either.

Fact: You can have heart problems even if nobody else in your family does.

Family history and genetics play a huge role in your health, but even if you don’t have a family history of heart disease, you may not be in the clear. Other factors may increase your risk of heart disease, like alcohol and tobacco use, limited physical activity, certain pregnancy complications, and a diet high in saturated fat and sodium.

Myth: You can’t prevent heart disease.

Fact: There are plenty of ways to support heart health.

You can’t change some of your risk factors, like family history and genetics, but you have control over your lifestyle habits. Regular physical activity, a heart-healthy diet, and good stress management techniques all go a long way to help keep your heart pumping strong. Be sure to schedule regular visits with your healthcare provider and bring up any questions or concerns you have about heart health.

Heart health is just as important for women as it is for men. Now that you’ve separated the heart health myths from the facts, you’re well-prepared to move your own heart health up on your priority list.



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