Cardiovascular diseases can show different signs in men and women;  see symptoms for heart attack and stroke

Cardiovascular diseases can show different signs in men and women; see symptoms for heart attack and stroke

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By Fernanda Bassete, from Agência Einstein- The American Heart Association (AHA) has published a new scientific statement in which it highlights the symptoms of the six main cardiovascular diseases, emphasizing that men and women can present different signs – therefore, it warns of the importance of knowing how to identify the problem.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the world – in Brazil alone, it is estimated that at least 380,000 people lose their lives every year due to these diseases, according to data from the Brazilian Society of Cardiology. In addition, measuring symptoms of heart problems is difficult due to subjectivity. They may not be recognized by people or not reported because they are more non-specific.

In the document, the AHA expert committee reviewed a number of studies and highlighted that symptoms often overlap and can be experienced differently over time. They can also vary according to sex and the severity of the problem. Thus, knowing the typical and atypical signs is essential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Chest pain that radiates to the back, for example, is a classic sign of a cardiovascular problem, but it’s not the only one. Learning to identify other subtle and less familiar signs is an important form of prevention and monitoring.

“This is a document to alert not only the lay population, but also the medical community. It starts from the premise that most symptoms are subjective. So, the doctor needs to know how to identify what the patient is bringing in information”, says Humberto Graner, cardiologist and coordinator of the Emergency Department at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Goiânia.

Graner also emphasizes that this document is important because it draws attention to subtle differences between the sexes. “Men and women experience the same cardiovascular problem in different ways. We can’t put everyone in the same basket. It is necessary to take the reported signs seriously and learn to identify those that are atypical. Typical in heart failure is shortness of breath; atypical is a gastrointestinal problem”, warned the cardiologist.

Below are the signs of the 6 main cardiovascular diseases:

1 – infarction: Heart infarction is one of the conditions that fall under acute coronary syndrome – a term used for any heart condition in which there is a sudden loss of blood flow to the heart. According to the document, the most frequent symptom reported when a person is having a heart attack is chest pain (like pressure), which radiates to the back, shoulders, arm and jaw. Less frequent and more reported by women are shortness of breath, sweating or cold sweat, unusual fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

two – Cardiac insufficiency: Shortness of breath is the most classic symptom and what makes people look for a doctor. But, other earlier symptoms should be considered, such as gastrointestinal problems, stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, mood disorders and cognitive dysfunction. According to the document, women with heart failure have more depression and anxiety problems and report less quality of life. They also report palpitations, increased levels of pain and digestive changes.

3 – Valve disease: Heart valve disease is a common cause of heart failure and has the same main symptom, which is shortness of breath. Valves are instruments that control the flow of blood between the chambers of the heart and major problems include valves that are narrow, hardened, valves that close incorrectly or that are malformed. A person with valve disease can go for years without symptoms and develop them progressively. Among the atypical signs are hypertension of the lungs. Women report more shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, and physical frailty than men (they often report chest pain).

4 – Stroke: happens when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. The main signs are easily recognizable because it is a medical emergency (face slumped to the side, speech difficulty/distorted speech and weakness in the arms). But there are other symptoms that can help identify: mental confusion, dizziness, loss of coordination and balance, and visual changes. According to the document, women are more likely to have less familiar symptoms, such as headache and motor and sensory changes.

5 – Cardiac arrhythmia: cardiac arrhythmias are often described as fast, irregular, and choppy beats. Other symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness – all shared with other cardiovascular diseases. Less common include chest pain, fainting, and anxiety. Women and younger adults report experiencing more palpitations.

6 – peripheral arterial disease: is characterized by the clogging of the arteries of the lower limbs, reducing blood circulation in the legs. People may have no symptoms or have the classic sign of pain in one or both calf muscles (which occurs while walking and goes away with rest). However, cramps, fatigue, pain in the toes or other parts of the foot can also be important signs, as the condition increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Depression is a very common problem in women with peripheral artery disease.

Source: Einstein Agency

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