• Women and Cardiovascular Disease

     
     
     
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    4/29/2013

    Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women, but as a woman, even if you know that, you’re probably too busy most days to think about it. But you should think about it, because what you do each day in part determines your risk for developing cardiovascular disease and suffering its life-threatening consequences. Cardiovascular disease develops over time, affecting your body in ways you might not notice until it’s too late. By thinking about it now, you can learn ways to reduce your risks, recognize the warning signs of a heart attack, and advocate to get the help you need. Your life or the life of someone you love may depend on it.

    Here are some other facts about women and cardiovascular disease that may surprise you:

    • One in three women over the age of 20 has some form of cardiovascular disease. It strikes women at younger ages than most people think, and the risk rises in middle age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the third most common cause of death among women ages 25 to 44 years old and two-thirds of women who have heart attacks never fully recover.
    • Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is the single most common cause of death among women, regardless of race and ethnicity, and yet many women are still dangerously unaware that they are at risk, especially African American and Hispanic women. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, African American women ages 55 to 64 are twice as likely as white women to have a heart attack and 35 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.
    • More women have strokes than men. According to the American Stroke Association, each year more than 100,000 women under the age of 65 in the United States will have a stroke.
    • Smoking is a major risk factor for heart attack in women. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, women who smoke are at risk of a heart attack 19 years earlier than those who don’t smoke.
    • Roughly one third of adults in the United States have high blood pressure (hypertension), according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. After age 55, women are at increased risk of hypertension, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.
    • Two to three million women in the United States have coronary microvascular disease - a form of heart disease that is challenging to diagnose, and there are 90,000 new cases each year.

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    WomenHeart Champion Marilyn Smedberg-Gobbett shares potentially life-saving information for women.

    Where Cardiovascular Disease Strikes 

    Cardiovascular disease isn’t only about the heart. Women are affected by a range of cardiovascular diseases. Often, cardiovascular disease in one part of the body puts a woman at higher risk of cardiovascular disease elsewhere in the body. That is, if you have heart disease, you are also at greater risk of stroke, for example. The best way to fight back is to understand how cardiovascular disease forms and how you can control risk factors. Click on the links below for more information about heart disease, stroke, or peripheral artery disease (PAD).

    Why ‘Women and Cardiovascular Disease’?

    Traditionally, men have been the primary focus for cardiovascular disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. While disparities still exist, fortunately, medical science is making gains in understanding the differences between men and women when it comes to cardiovascular disease. Women can also be their own advocates and work to reduce disparities by:

    •  Striving to minimize their risk factors.
    •  Asking specific questions that can help them get the best possible treatment. 
    •  Helping other women by participating in clinical trials to advance knowledge about how to best improve and save the lives of women with cardiovascular disease.

    For more information on differences between women and men in cardiovascular disease see The Gender Gap in Cardiovascular Disease.

  • More About Women and Heart Disease

    Diagnosis of Heart and Vascular Disease in Women

    As you can see, gauging your overall risk for cardiovascular disease is a challenging proposition, especially if you have multiple risk factors to test for and monitor. If possible, work with your doctor to manage your risks and stay on track with your goals for a heart healthy lifestyle.

    Heart Attack Warning Signs in Women

    When a heart attack strikes, seconds count for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. Any delay in treating your heart attack increases your chances of permanent, irreparable damage to your heart—and, it could cost you your life.

    Myths About Women and Heart Disease

    According to the statement from WIN consensus statement mixed messages from the media, as well as the tendency of the public and health care providers to underestimate the problem, are enormous barriers to heart health in women.

    Pregnancy and Your Heart

    Pregnancy and new motherhood present so much that is new for you to think about that your future heart health may not seem like an immediate priority. However, research is increasingly suggesting that certain complications during pregnancy may be a signal of future heart disease—and problems may be evident as soon as 10 years after pregnancy.

    Prevention of Heart and Vascular Disease in Women

    You likely know by now that more women than men die from heart disease each year. If so, you are a step ahead of many women. According to the American Heart Association, only 1 in 5 women believe that heart disease is their greatest health threat.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Coronary Microvascular Disease

    The questions in this section can help you start a conversation with your physician about microvascular disease. Take these questions with you to your appointment, write down additional questions that you have, and take notes on your physician’s responses.

    Risk Factor Modification and Lifestyle Changes for Women

    By now you’ve probably heard or read that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. But unless something causes you pain or interferes with your day-to-day activities, like most of us, you probably put it out of your mind. You might think, “I’m too young,” “I exercise every day,” or “I’ve always had really low cholesterol.” Please don’t think that for whatever reason you are uniquely immune.

    SecondsCount PAD Check: Are You at Risk?

    Use this easy-to-read flowchart to determine if you or someone you know may be at risk for PAD.

    The Gender Gap in Cardiovascular Disease

    Unfortunately – and for reasons that aren’t entirely understood – women have not reached parity with men when it comes to complications and outcomes from heart disease treatment.

    Treatment of Heart and Vascular Disease in Women

    Though women and men are different, women benefit from the same types of treatment for cardiovascular disease as men, when appropriately applied. This is not to say that treatment should be “one size fits all” for women and men, but that the same kinds of treatment are effective.

    Women and Cardiovascular Disease

    Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women, but as a woman, even if you know that, you’re probably too busy most days to think about it. But you should think about it, because what you do each day in part determines your risk for developing cardiovascular disease and suffering its life-threatening consequences. By thinking about it now, you can learn ways to reduce your risks, recognize the warning signs of a heart attack, and advocate to get the help you need.

    Women and Coronary Microvascular Disease

    Consider this scenario: You are a woman, admitted to a hospital with chest pain, and you undergo an X-ray imaging test called an angiogram to see if you have blockages in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. The test comes back clear, but you have been experiencing chest pain (angina), and another test - called a stress test - finds that portions of your heart are not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood. Both you and your physician know that something is wrong. Now what?

    Women and Heart Disease

    One way to fight heart disease is to raise awareness among women and the medical community. For a variety of reasons, people continue to underestimate and overlook the prevalence and seriousness of heart disease in women.

    Women and Peripheral Artery Disease (P.A.D.)

    Women are more likely than men to have a condition called intermittent claudication, in which blockages in the limbs cause muscle pain during activity but stops during rest.

    Women and Stroke

    Stroke, the leading cause of disability in the U.S., like heart disease, is also a disease shared by women. Twice as many women will die of stroke than breast cancer each year. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, experts believe that as many as 80 percent of strokes could be prevented.

    Women: Questions to Ask Your Doctor

    When you schedule checkups with your doctors, don’t neglect your heart. Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in the United States. SecondsCount provides questions that can help you start a conversation with your doctor about cardiovascular disease.