Matters of The Heart

Just because you’re not clutching your chest in agony doesn’t mean you’re not having a heart attack, especially if you’re a woman. Research suggests that women are more likely to have symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and neck, jaw, or shoulder pain than the tightening in the chest we’ve come to expect.

“Be in tune with your body,” counsels American Heart Association spokeswoman Jennifer Mieres, MD. Are you suddenly short of breath or feeling fatigued with little exertion? Then it’s time to call your doctor. Stat. Better yet, do what you can to not have to make that call. “Heart disease can be prevented when you can manage the risk factors,” Mieres says. She advises knowing your family history to help assess your risk.

Mieres also advises watching your waistline, since women who store fat around their waist (aka the “apple” shape) are at increased risk of heart disease. She recommends eating “plenty of high-fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and flaxseeds” as a strategy to limit your risk.