Over the years doctors were not able to clearly diagnose impending heart attacks in women. This was mainly due to their symptoms being different from those of men. They were often diagnosed with anxiety or panic attacks, only to experience more severe heart attacks at a later date.

Heart attacks are caused by blockages in the coronary arteries. The symptoms of most heart attacks in men are severe chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, the numbing of the left arm, or a feeling of impending doom.

Symptoms of heart attacks in women include:

- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the abdomen, in the back, in the jaw or in the throat
- A sensation of uneasiness or feeling “sick” that is difficult to describe

Many women die before receiving medical attention. Their symptoms may have been absent, too sudden, or had not been diagnosed previously. Also, most women are not aware that they have heart problem.

Although heart attacks are more frequent in menopausal women, the incidence in pre-menopausal group has been growing.

Possible reasons for the higher mortality in women may be due to the use of hormone replacement therapy, the higher rates of depression among women, and more cardiac damage with heart attacks in women than in men.

The main identified causes of heart attacks in women are:

• Excessive sugar intake is the number one risk factor for heart attacks in women
• Excessive animal fat intake is the number two risk factor
• High blood pressure
• Smoking accounts for the vast majority of heart attacks in women under 45 and those with family histories of heart disease
• Calcium supplements cause a significant increase in heart attacks especially in older women despite benefits for bones!
Obesity, especially in the stomach area
• Blockages in small arteries deep in a woman's body
• Clots in blood vessels of the heart and brain
• Mental stress
• Sleep disturbances
• Arteriosclerosis, the thickening of the arteries (previously termed hardening of the arteries)
• Unusual fatigue

It must be noted here that estrogen is a major culprit. It raises blood pressure (one of the top three reasons for heart attacks in women), increases triglycerides, promotes clotting (a leading cause of heart attacks), and raises levels of C-reactive protein (causing inflammation associated with heart disease)

There is good news, however! Doctors estimate that about half of all heart attacks in women stem from treatable factors (as opposed to non-treatable factors such as heredity and age):

• Enough vitamin B6 reduces heart attacks by 70%. Its "pandemic" deficiency in Western cultures is the prime cause of heart attacks, and supplements of it as the key to avoiding and curing heart disease
• Walking can not only significantly reduce the risk. Women who walked a total of three hours per week or who exercised vigorously for at least 90 minutes a week had one third fewer heart attacks than women who got no exercise
• The fats in nuts have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks
• Eating one serving a day of whole-grain foods reduced heart attacks by 34 percent in another study of 34,000 postmenopausal women.

Furthermore, drinking coffee does not increase the risk.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that low dose aspirin therapy does not have the same benefits for women as it does for men.

Author's Bio: 

Ann Stewart, author, inspirational writer and wellness coach, shares tips on how to fight off disease and feel your best in her weekly newsletter, Youth Makeover