How Does Gender Affect Heart Disease Symptoms?

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What Is the Impact of Gender on Heart Disease Symptoms?

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Heart disease claims the lives of 500,000 women every year. It is one of the leading causes of death in women 65 years of age and older, and it is also one of the main reasons behind disability. Although women tend to develop heart problems later than men, both genders are susceptible to cardiovascular diseases during the senior years. 

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Scottsdale, Arizona, non-medical home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

For decades, the techniques used for detecting and treating cardiovascular disease were primarily administered to men. However, the methods were not always successful in detecting heart conditions in women. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found heart disease symptoms commonly vary between the two genders. 

Male Cardiovascular Disease Symptoms

According to Dr. Gabriela Grasa from the New York-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital, men and women with cardiovascular disorders may not necessarily experience heart attack symptoms in the same way. Common male symptoms include: 

  • Sudden and crushing chest pain
  • Pain on the left side of the breastbone or the upper chest
  • Chest pain radiating to the left shoulder and inside the left arm
  • Chest pain radiating to the neck and jaw
  • Chest pain radiating to the back, arms, or abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heartburn
  • Palpitations

Female Cardiovascular Disease Symptoms

On the other hand, women’s symptoms are less intense and commonly do not include chest pain. Female cardiac symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort similar to heartburn
  • Nausea and possible vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pressure or tightness in the chest region
  • Pain radiating down one or both arms
  • Sleep disturbances

Both genders may experience fatigue, difficulty breathing, weakness, and pain, despite getting adequate rest. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in home care. Scottsdale seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. 

Physiological Differences

Dr. Janine Austin Clayton from the National Institutes of Health explains the reasons for the difference in cardiac symptoms. One difference involves the way vascular disease occurs in men and women. In men, plaque development typically affects one small area of a vessel. 

When a man experiences heart attack symptoms, an angiogram is performed, which enables physicians to locate the blockage in the arteries. In women, plaque tends to line blood vessel walls like a coating and starts to build up. Angiograms fail to detect the problem, as blood continues flowing through the narrowed vessel. 

Multiple tests are required to correctly detect heart disease in women, including: 

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Coronary catheterization
  • CT scan
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography
  • MRI
  • Stress tests 

Cardiovascular disease symptoms can be misdiagnosed in senior women, which causes delays in treatment. The lack of proper diagnosis and treatment are believed to be major factors as to why so many women die from cardiovascular disease.

In some cases, heart disease can indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Harvard Medical School believe there may be a genetic link between cardiovascular health issues and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who do not have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. For trusted Scottsdale Alzheimer’s care, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. Call us at 480.448.6215 to schedule a free in-home consultation.