Matters of the (Female) Heart: 10 Things Women May Not Know About Heart Disease
by Arnold B. Meshkov
- Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
- The incidence of heart disease has been increasing in women for the last 30 years.
- Women may not have the typical symptoms of cardiac chest pain, or angina pectoris, as a symptom of a blocked artery or atherosclerosis.
- Often, the only symptoms women may experience are shortness of breath and fatigue.
- When women do experience cardiac chest pain, it is often due to problems with the very small blood vessels of the heart, and not due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
- Heart disease in women presents on average about 10 years later than in men; with the population living much longer now, women without any history of heart problems are presenting with heart disease for the first time much later in life.
- Women are treated with invasive procedures such as angioplasty and cardiac surgery less often than men.
- Women have the same risk factors for heart disease as men, such as family history, cigarette smoking, “metabolic syndrome”, elevated cholesterol and lipids, high mental stress levels, high blood pressure (hypertension), being overweight and diabetes.
- Women have a significant risk of heart disease after menopause, but treatment with estrogens has been shown to increase that risk even further.
- Women are much more likely to suffer from “broken heart syndrome”, which presents with the typical symptoms of a heart attack but is not due to hardening of the arteries, and is often associated with major life stress events.
May, 2016 Issue