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Scientists Say the Assumption That Men Suffer More From Heart Attack Puts Women’s Health at Risk

Scientists Say the Assumption That Men Suffer More From Heart Attack Puts Women’s Health at Risk

Do you think that gender will not make any difference to your chances of survival after a heart attack? Wrong! You probably assume that whether you are a man or a woman, you will get the same preventive and post-cardiac attack treatment. Wrong again, I am afraid.

Two important studies reveal a rather alarming type of sexism in cardiac treatment. It seems that the general impression among the public, and even doctors, is that men are more likely to suffer from a heart attack. This belief is affecting the way women are being treated, and they are also more at risk because certain assumptions are made that not so many women have heart attacks.

Heart disease in men and women

The reality is that heart disease kills men and women in equal numbers. Guess which is the number one killer of women in the USA? You might think breast cancer but no, it is heart disease. It also accounts for about 22% of all women’s deaths, according to CDC figures for 2013.

In the UK, it is estimated that more women die from heart failure than men—82,000 women versus 79,000 men, annually.

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But women do not get the same heart health screening procedures. If you talk to Martha Gulati, a cardiologist at Ohio State University, she will tell you that in spite of the statistics, men are treated more thoroughly than women. Her book, Saving Women’s Hearts: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease With Natural and Conventional Strategies has highlighted this emergency.

Does this actually affect the way women are warned about the risks? The answer is an alarming yes. The first study revealed that as many as 11% of women are less likely to be told that they are at risk when they are diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, becoming overweight, and if they smoke.

The study revealed the medical records of over 3,500 patients.

About 66% of the patients investigated were women. Both the men and women were all at risk of heart disease from obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

The alarming results of the study showed that women were less likely to get clinical advice about their heart attack risks.

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“Young women cannot afford to be continually less informed than men about their risk for heart disease.”

—Erica Leifheit-Limson, researcher in the study.

Even more alarming is the fact that a woman arriving for emergency treatment for a heart attack is less likely to get the crucial life-saving procedures than a man would. As a result, their chances of death are higher. In fact, 4.5% of women were more likely to die from a heart attack in hospital, compared to about 3% for men.

Why this is an emergency for women

This is not just a gender gap issue—it is an emergency. One reason is that lifestyle modification advice may be directed more towards men because of the erroneous beliefs which persist. There are also slightly different symptoms in women such as nausea, vomiting, and sweating as mentioned on the WebMD site.

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Another problem is that life-saving procedures such as inserting stents and unblocking arteries are more aggressively pursued for men.

It is also shocking to know that many doctors seem to regard women as being less likely to have a heart attack, in spite of the figures.

Take the case of Rachel Boothroyd (37) who was working as a lawyer in London. Both her doctor and cardiologist dismissed her alarming neck, chest and arm pains as being not as fit as she used to be! She continued to go swimming in spite of severe pain but she could have had a fatal heart attack. Fortunately, her condition was finally diagnosed but she risked her life.

“Because I was a woman, no one thought of it. They kept saying, ‘I’m sure there won’t be anything in it.’”

—Rachel Boothroyd

How women can protect themselves

Keeping an eye on your health will be crucial in determining your risks. Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diet, and make lifestyle changes if necessary. The British Heart Foundation has set up the Women’s Room to help women do just that. This is the best protection and there will be no need to rely on out of date myths about more men having heart attacks. Women have hearts too!

Featured photo credit: Strawberry heart, a heart within a heart/ *sax via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 13, 2018

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast, and lots of people not only tend to ruin their usual diets, but they also gain a few extra pounds. Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that starts at the Thanksgiving Day and ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

A lot of individuals out there tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays since they believe that they do not have enough time to perform their workouts. And because they feel guilty after the holiday season, most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. If you want to stay fit during the holiday season, especially during Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, here are some useful tips that might help you:

1. Eat Before Heading Out

First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. Skipping on meals is not a good idea either, because you will only be forced to eat more later.

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2. Select The Treats

Make sure to select the treats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time.

3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the treats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

4. Drink With Moderation

It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten!

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5. Be Active

You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away from the store or just use the stairs!

6. Get Out Of The House

Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved. Even a snowball fight in the backyard will burn a lot of calories and will keep the children entertained.

7. Don’t Skip Your Strength Workouts

Always remember to perform your strength training in order to maintain that muscle mass you worked hard to get. You might be tempted to use lightweights and just do some cardio, but you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights. And with all of those extra stakes you had on the holiday meals, you might even gain some extra muscle. And this is much better than gaining some extra fat.

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8. Set Realistic Goals

You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

9. Enjoy Yourself

Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions.

10. Drink A Lot Of Water

This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

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11. Eat Less And More Often

Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once.  Instead of having 2 enormous meals, have 5 small ones.  Eat your dinner earlier and have a nice walk before going to bed.

12. Prioritize Your Workouts

Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…”

So there you go! Twelve simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the winter holidays, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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