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Heart Disease in Women is Very Different From Men

Here’s What You Need to Know

Not enough is being done to prevent and treat heart disease in women. Research in women’s heart health is lacking and too many health professionals take women’s hearts for granted. With heart disease being America’s number one killer, many women are suffering and cutting short the time they have to spend doing things they enjoy with the people they love.

Many women think that heart disease is something that happens to men or is strongly predetermined by their genetics—but that’s just not the case. If you are proactive with your health you can catch issues early enough to prevent and successfully treat heart disease so you can add many years of life to your life.

Stats and facts about heart disease in women

Heart, or cardiovascular, disease includes several diseases affecting the heart or blood vessels. These include heart attacks, heart failure, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems, and abnormal heart rhythms. Heart disease often looks and feels different in men and women and that’s why women need doctors who know how to approach their unique health needs.
The latest statistics about heart disease in women are alarming:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, men, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
  • In the U.S., over 8 million women live with heart disease.
  • Typical heart attack symptoms for women can include chest pain, but unlike men, they often include chest pressure or tightness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, dizziness, or no symptoms at all.
  • Approximately 64% of women who died suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms.
  • Women are less likely than men to be prescribed guideline-recommended heart medications.
  • Women get lifesaving procedures less often and later during the course of a heart attack, than men do.
  • Women under the age of 55 are 3 times more likely than men to die after a heart attack.
  • Heart disease is linked to 1 of every 3 deaths of post-menopausal women.
  • Today’s standards in medicine have not been effective in preventing the deaths of approximately 500,000 women every year.

How do you know if you have heart disease?

The American Heart Association recommends screening for heart issues beginning at the age of 20. This means that you should not wait to experience symptoms to check on your heart health. There are some common tests that a preventive cardiologist would order to check if your heart is healthy including a stress test, CT calcium score, and a heart catheterization.

When getting medical care, women should not focus only on heart disease. There are many areas of health that you should be talking with your doctor about. Click here for 10 questions that every woman should ask their doctor.

Summary

Don’t wait until you feel symptoms to proactively care for your heart and the rest of your body. A preventive women’s health program is the best way to identify potential heart issues early, before they have a chance to do damage. Most importantly, choose a doctor who specializes in heart disease in women to regularly do in-depth evaluations so you don’t become a statistic.
If you want to learn more about preventive cardiology and women’s health, contact us or make an appointment by calling 352-717-0220.

References

Alvarez, N. 2019. Heels vs. Ties: Living with your #1 threat. RI-AL Consulting.

Gaggin, H., and Oseran, A. (2020, October 15). Gender differences in cardiovascular disease: Women are less likely to be prescribed certain heart medications. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/gender-differences-in-cardiovascular-disease-women-are-less-likely-to-be-prescribed-certain-heart-medications-2020071620553

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, December 16). Heart attacks in women. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease/heart-attacks-in-women

Virani, S. S., Alonso, A., Aparicio, H. J., Benjamin, E. J., Bittencourt, M. S., Callaway, C. W., Carson, A. P., Chamberlain, A. M., Cheng, S., Delling, F. N., Elkind, M., Evenson, K. R., Ferguson, J. F., Gupta, D. K., Khan, S. S., Kissela, B. M., Knutson, K. L., Lee, C. D., Lewis, T. T., Liu, J., … American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee (2021). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2021 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 143(8), e254–e743. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000950
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000950

Zhao, M., Woodward, M., Vaartjes, I., Millett, E., Klipstein-Grobusch, K., Hyun, K., Carcel, C., & Peters, S. (2020). Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Medication Prescription in Primary Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Heart Association, 9(11), e014742. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.014742
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429003/

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