The medical community has recently been laying a lot of stress on recognizing the signs and symptoms of angina in women. There is an ongoing bid to dispel the myth that heart disease is a male problem.
The truth is that heart disease is the number one killer of women as well as men, but women are less likely than men to be diagnosed and treated for it. This is because the symptoms in women are often too generic to be associated with the condition.
What Is Angina?
Angina is defined as a type of chest pain caused by the reduced flow of blood to the heart muscle. The obstruction or spasm of the coronary arteries can cause the reduction in flow of blood.
There are different types of angina classified as per their characteristics. Stable angina is precipitated by physical activity, unstable angina could occur at rest and may have a crescendo pattern, and microvascular angina has symptoms similar to angina but could have different underlying causes.
Signs and Symptoms
Angina is characterized by chest discomfort rather than actual pain. There is typically a heaviness, burning or squeezing, even a choking sensation. The discomfort may not only be in the chest area but also in the jaw, shoulder, arm, back and neck areas.
The pain or discomfort is often brought on by physical or emotional stress. In cases, there could also be breathlessness, nausea, sweating, and increased pulse rate.
Are Angina Symptoms Different in Women?
Though women may also experience chest pain and discomfort, this may not be the case. Women often have generic symptoms that are difficult to relate to heart disease. Women could feel unusual tiredness or fatigue. They may feel dizzy or lightheaded. Often there are digestive disturbances such as nausea, indigestion, and abdominal pain.
These symptoms could manifest weeks before a woman actually suffers a heart attack. However more often than not, women are likely to explain away the symptoms as being caused by other benign causes. For this reason, women are less likely to be diagnosed as having heart disease. So it naturally follows that they are less likely to receive timely and effective treatment.
Since signs and symptoms of angina in women are often unlike what we typically expect, heart disease can actually be more dangerous for women than it is for men. So it becomes doubly important for women to know about angina symptoms and to consult a medical practitioner promptly.