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Gender Gap: Inequalities Exist in Women's Heart Health and Financial Health

Melissa Brock
·4 min read

During Heart Health month in February, inequalities exist in women's finances and in heart attack misdiagnosis.

Heart disease kills one in three for both sexes and remains the leading cause of death in women as well as men. However, since 1984, more women have died of heart disease than men each year, according to Harvard Health.

In the same vein, women save a lot less for retirement. The Transamerica Retirement Survey found women have $34,000 in household retirement savings, while men have $115,000, up from $50,000 in 2012.

In both cases, experts point to clear disadvantages for women — in heart attacks and financial health.

The solution:

  • Each February, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and The Heart Truth® celebrate American Heart Month and encourage Americans to prevent heart disease by paying particular attention to cardiovascular health.

  • Make heart health a regular part of a self-care routine.

  • Join Purse Strings, which brings women to the table in only the way a women-run business can, with a focus on relationships, listening, understanding and encouragement.

Heart Attack Signs Skew Toward Men

Women's heart attack symptoms don't present the same way as men's heart attack symptoms. In fact, women's symptoms show up more often when resting or even when asleep than they do in men.

The most common heart attack symptom in women is the same as in men:

  • Chest pain

  • Pressure or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes

  • Pain or pressure that comes and goes.

However, chest pain is not always severe or even the first symptom women notice. It might feel more like pressure or tightness — and no chest pain might present itself at all.

Unfortunately, due to these reasons, women don't always recognize their symptoms as a heart attack. Many materials, education and news articles describe the feeling of "an elephant sitting on the chest."

Women might even get misdiagnosed by a doctor. Nausea and vomiting or indigestion could signal a dozen other illnesses. A heart attack isn't always the first and foremost answer, as we already know. Women should make sure their doctors know their risk factors (smoking, sedentary lifestyle risk factors and more) so they can put the pieces together and give them the right diagnosis from the get-go.

Financial Information: Created with Men in Mind

The financial industry isn't set up to accommodate women, just like medicine isn't adequately set up to handle women and heart disease.

Some examples of this dichotomy: Information skews toward men and the financial industry also gears toward men's products.

Examples of how the financial industry gears itself toward men:

  • Trading tools look like video games.

  • Trading simulators usually offer a very unfriendly interface. Every single app or desktop trading station looks like it's made for men — by men.

  • Women get shut out of the technology of finance

  • They aren't in the boardroom or as prevalent in the financial sector.

  • Women aren't approached well in financial advisors' offices

Women suffer financially because of it.

Women's Disadvantages Add Up

Consider the cost of prescription medications, co-pays, physical therapy and more.

Heart disease costs the United States about $219 billion from 2014 to 2015. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines and lost productivity. Very similarly, when financial plans or decisions don't focus on the unique needs of women, women could become financially insolvent when it comes to their financial futures.

Women earn less on average over the course of a lifetime than men, and lower lifetime earnings make it harder for women to save for retirement. Unfortunately, women also have longer lifespans and higher health care costs.

The financial isn't set up to work well with women. That's why Purse Strings brings women to the table in only the way a women-run business can, with a focus on relationships, listening, understanding and encouragement.

Women: Reduce Your Risk in Both Areas and Live Your Best Life

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, and now's the time to do as much as possible to make heart-healthy decisions. In addition, recognize the signs of a heart attack:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort

  • Shortness of breath

  • Pain in one or both arms

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Sweating

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Unusual fatigue

  • Indigestion

Women shouldn't neglect making the best financial decisions possible, because they face major disadvantages on both counts — health and finances. Take the next step: Embark on an exercise plan, call your doctor, start a new, healthy diet today.

Finally, join the membership at Purse Strings right away. Your best life is right around the corner. You don't need to take the financial disadvantages that face women lying down! Don't miss out on what Purse Strings can offer you. Join Purse Strings and do what you can to make the rest of February the best month, financially and health-wise!

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