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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

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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 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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