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P1136 Women and Heart Disease

In women with this problem, which is called coronary microvascular syndrome, blood flow to the heart falls dangerously low. But they don’t often feel the “elephant-on-the-chest” pain that takes place when large arteries shut down. Instead, they may have subtle symptoms. They may feel pressure or squeezing or shortness of breath. Symptoms may even pop up elsewhere in the body, such as the jaw. (This symptom of jaw pain can also appear in men having a heart attack.) Many women with microvascular disease may continue to have symptoms and become sicker. They may be at an increased risk for heart attack within five years. Some experts suggest that hormonal changes associated with aging or inflammation may explain why women’s smaller blood vessels develop this unique disease process. The stage for heart disease is set before menopause by factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, extra weight (especially around the waist), and smoking— all factors that play a part in plaque buildup. Is it angina or a heart attack? Angina usually goes away after a few minutes of rest. If you have never had angina before or if the following symptoms last for more than a few minutes, or if they go away and come back, you could be having a heart attack. Call 911 right away! 77 Discomfort, aching, tightness or pressure that comes and goes. This may be in the back, abdomen, arm, shoulder, neck or jaw. It can also be in the chest. 77 Feeling much more tired than usual, for no clear reason. 77 Becoming breathless while doing something that used to be easy. 77 Heartburn, nausea or a burning feeling that seems unrelated to food. 9


P1136 Women and Heart Disease
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