Care of the Heart

Congenital Heart Disease

We seem to have a special fascination with the heart. People use terms such as heartache and heartbreak to describe how they feel, and there is even a holiday (Valentine’s Day) in which hearts feature prominently. The heart also plays a significant role in the health of individuals, and this is especially true for women.

The Heart

An adult heart weighs about 10 ounces and is roughly the size of two clenched fists. This muscle is located on the left side of the chest and is protected by the ribcage. One of the heart’s main functions, in addition to maintaining proper blood pressure, is to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. When blood, along with the oxygen it carries, is prevented from reaching the heart, part of the heart muscle can become damaged or die. When this happens, a heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction) is said to have occurred.

Heart Attacks

Every 40 seconds in the United States, someone suffers a heart attack, and heart disease represents the most common cause of death. More women than men die from heart attacks, and this may be because the symptoms of a heart attack are not the same in men and women. Men typically experience the classic warning signs of a heart attack, but in women, these signs are often vague and can easily go unnoticed.

For women, chest pain may or may not be present, and more noticeable symptoms commonly include unusual fatigue, indigestion (or heartburn), and back pain. Emotional stress has been identified as a trigger for heart attack symptoms in women, and in comparison to men, their symptoms may appear while at rest or even while sleeping.

Risk Factors

There are some risk factors for heart disease that seem to be more significant for women. These include pregnancy complications, menopause, lack of physical activity, smoking, diabetes, inflammatory disease, emotional stress and depression, and a family history of early heart disease. For some of these risk factors, the woman herself can make changes that will help to reduce the risks involved. In other cases, professional care is a necessity. For instance, depending on the specifics of the situation, pregnancy could involve visits to the office of an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) or to abortion clinics Texas.

Healthy Heart

If people are engaging in unhealthy behavior, their actions can be changed, but this is often quite difficult, especially if the behavior has persisted for a long time. Prevention, therefore, can be a helpful goal. To promote heart health, individuals can refrain from smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages. As well, they can incorporate exercise into their routine, limit their intake of salt, and manage any other health conditions that might also be present.

Regarding the risks and benefits of taking low-dose aspirin, opinions vary. For people who have had a prior heart attack, some guidelines recommend taking aspirin daily in order to prevent another heart attack. Other guidelines, however, note that aspirin’s blood-thinning properties could increase the risk of bleeding; therefore, they advise caution. The best advice will likely come from an individual’s physician who knows the specifics of the situation.

Read also: What is Congenital Heart Disease?

Care of the Heart

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