Heart disease is one the leading causes of death in adult women. Although this can also be influenced by activity levels and overall weight, one of the primary reasons that this is a health risk trend is due to the hormonal changes that women undergo throughout life. The fluctuations between estrogen and progesterone can form a natural balance for health, but dietary and chemical intake can also impact outcomes.
Dietary habits that include processed foods and high amounts of fat can contribute to heart disease through the presence of the fats themselves, but also through the manner in which fat content impacts hormonal cycles. Further, many processed meats have been treated with steroids or hormones, which further increases the chemical load in a woman’s body. The result is that higher estrogen levels and sudden fluctuations in chemicals can put an extreme strain on the heart.
As well, the use of many prescription contraceptives also contributes to this hormonal imbalance that can impact heart health. This can be especially true contraceptives are used for extended periods of time and are only lapsed when the desire for pregnancy arises. Of course, menopause also creates a considerable shift within the body, and the higher levels of progesterone which result can also lead to:
- Hardening of the blood vessels
- Sudden high blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Chronic strain on the cardiac muscle
While all of these factors contribute to the predisposition that women have towards heart disease, psychological reasons can also add to the concern. This can include things such as:
- High levels of stress
- Over activity with no down time
- Worry and anxiety
- Depression, especially post-partum depression
As all of these aspects combine, it exponentially raises the risk that women have for heart disease. Unfortunately, many women are actually unaware of the warning signs, and this can further generate a negative outcome. In many cases, catching the development of heart disease in women early can lead to better management of the condition and sometimes even reversal. However, it is also necessary to know the signs in order to seek the appropriate professional advice.
Gastro-intestinal issues can be one of the first indicators of a heart condition. This sign is largely caused by an acidic state that becomes apparent when the heart is not able to pump blood efficiently. The result is under oxygenation, which can switch the body chemistry from alkaline to acid. When the body is in an acid state, it is more susceptible to infection, but organ systems can also no longer function properly.
Stomach pains may be sharp and intermittent, but tend to become chronic as the condition progresses. Pangs are often felt near the upper left side portion of the stomach and even in the esophageal sphincter, as this may also be a response to uncommon electrical activity that is coming from the heart. Stomach pains are a cause for seeking professional help, and this can become life saving in cases where heart disease is the cause.
Nausea, Sweating, and Fatigue
Although these three symptoms can appear on their own, they are often experienced in conjunction with one another. These signs can certainly indicate that heart disease is an issue, but it should also be noted that these symptoms can be the sign of an actual heart attack.
The occurrence of nausea is also related to the improper oxygenation that comes with heart disease. While this is related to the actual stomach pains, it can indicate a greater progression of the illness. This is due to the fact that the extended acidic state in the body is also impacting the stomach’s ability to properly digest and process nutrients. Further, and acidic state physiologically will also mean that the stomach is producing more acid in general. The result is that nausea occurs from the excess acid as it eats at the stomach lining.
Sweating can be an individual symptom of heart disease, but can also be a cofactor of nausea and stomach pain. When these symptoms occur together, medical help should be sought immediately. However, higher incidences of sweating that are associated with the development of heart disease are also frequently followed by clamminess and chills.
The reason for this symptomatic expression can be the combination of compromised circulation and irregular electrical impulses from the heart which are impacting pain receptors and other nerve endings. Initial experiences of this symptom may be mild and intermittent at first, but can rapidly worsen in both severity and duration.
Although general fatigue can be symptomatic of many conditions, it is directly related to heart disease in women. The fatigue tends to be a result of the general malaise that is felt, as well as the lowered oxygen in the body from poor circulation and heart function. Generally, when fatigue occurs along with any of the other major symptoms, it should be taken as a sign to seek medical help. However, since chronic fatigue can also be related to other progressive and life threatening situations, if the condition continues for more than a week to a week and a half, it should receive attention.
Chest Pain and Back Pain
Although the heart is situated slightly to the left of the midline of the body, pain from cardiac distress can be felt across the entire region of the upper chest and through the sternum. This is due to the fact that as the heart strains or begins to fibrillate, the change in vibrations impact muscle and organ systems around the area. Along with this, the continued disruption to the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the body further produces stress in the cells and this can also manifest as chest pain.
While chest pain is cited as a prime indicator of heart disease in women, this sensation can also be experienced in the back, specifically around half way down the left shoulder blade region. This symptom should be taken as seriously as chest pains, and it is important for women to realize that this can also be an indicator of cardiac disease or even arrest.