Here are 20 surprises I’ve picked up along the way while researching other surprising things about women’s heart disease:
1. The most common day of the week for a heart attack to occur is Monday.
2. Saturday ranks second.
3. Most heart attacks hit during the early morning hours between 4-10 a.m. when blood platelets are stickier and increased adrenaline released from the adrenal glands can trigger rupture of plaques in coronary arteries. Heart attacks occurring between 6 a.m. and noon were associated with the most damage, in a study reported in the cardiology journal Heart.
4. Heart attacks are 27% more likely to occur around your birthday, especially in women with high blood pressure (Yikes! I had my first heart attack symptoms at 6:30 a.m. on a Monday morning while out delivering thank you cards to friends who had attended my Saturday evening birthday party!)
5. In one day, the heart pumps nearly 2,000 gallons of blood.
6. In the average lifetime, the heart beats 2.5 billion times.
7. Neck circumference may be as important a risk factor as abdominal fat for predicting a heart attack.
8. Women who regularly eat strawberries – at least two servings per week, jam-packed with lycopene – are 14% less likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein in their blood (an indicator of inflammation that’s been linked to heart disease).
9. Every minute, the heart pumps our entire supply of blood – about five quarts – through the body.
10. Cardiovascular disease costs the Canadian economy $18 billion year
11. Most women start to develop small streaks of cholesterol and other fats in their arteries before the age of 10.
12. Almost half of women who have heart attacks will be dead by the end of the first year following the attack.
13. In many female heart attack survivors, the attack itself is the first sign of coronary artery disease.
14. Many heart attack survivors can point to a specific incident that seemed to trigger the attack: heavy exertion, stress, anger, fear, grief, extreme hot or cold weather, heavy drinking, eating a large meal, or (rarely) having sex. See also: How women can tell if they’re headed for a heart attack
15. The ‘Three E’s’ of angina (chest pain) causes are: Emotion, Exertion and Eating!
16. Women who do not feel or recognize symptoms during a heart attack can have what is called a silent heart attack, more common in women over 75 and those with diabetes.
17. For half of women who have heart attacks before menopause, smoking is their only risk factor.
18. The human heart is fully developed about eight weeks after conception, when the embryo is only about one inch long.
19. The heart actually begins to beat even earlier than eight weeks of gestation – about four weeks after conception.
20. According to the American Heart Association, only 8% of family physicians (and even more surprising, only 17% of cardiologists!) are aware that more women than men die of heart disease each year.
© Carolyn Thomas www.myheartsisters.org
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: I wrote much more about our hearts – especially women’s hearts – in my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease“ (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).