The connection between women and heart disease is under-reported and misunderstood. There is key information all ladies should know. Let’s begin with the fact that one in five women will die from a heart attack in the US. Next, heart disease is the number one killer of women. Let’s discover what else you need to know.
Heart Disease And What It Means
Heart disease doesn’t just refer to heart attacks, but it encompasses all the other conditions that affect the heart and cardiovascular system.
These conditions include coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, vascular disease, aorta disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, and abnormal heart rhythms to name just a few.
The Big BUTs
Let’s identify what is generally misunderstood about women and heart disease.
- Most women believe cancer (especially breast cancer) is more deadly than heart disease, BUT heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.
- Only 1 in 3 women identify cardiovascular disease as the most important health problem facing women, BUT cardiovascular disease is the single leading cause of death for women in the US.
- Cardiovascular disease has decreased among men, BUT has increased in women.
- Most men having a heart attack complain of severe crushing chest pains, BUT women often have different symptoms. They include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal, neck, jaw, throat, back, and shoulder pain
- Deep fatigue
- Disturbed sleep one or two months prior to a heart attack
- Discomfort in chest area is more like pressure, aching, or tightness rather than pain
Women And Heart Disease: Are You At Risk?
It is safe to say that many women are under-treated for heart disease, their risks can be under-appreciated, and prevention is not a major focus. These things are changing.
One new risk factor recently recognized is the association between pregnancy complications and heart disease. Women who have gestational diabetes are 8 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
The good news is this newly associated risk factor can give women and their doctors time to mitigate the risks and treat heart disease early.
Menopause is another risk factor. Women have an increased risk for heart attacks after menopause due to the higher concentrations of total cholesterol compared to men.
Once women become more aware of their particular risk, it becomes easier to focus on prevention. Regular exercise, not smoking, eating healthy, reducing stress and depression can all help to prevent heart disease. Whatever your age, start now!
Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates if you want to know more about women and heart disease and your particular risk. We have cardiology clinics in West Orange, Belleville, Toms River, and Clifton.