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Understanding Heart Disease in Women

Feb 28, 2020

Heart disease continues to represent one of the biggest challenges to modern medicine because it impacts the lives of millions worldwide each year. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death and disability among women in the United States despite years of improvement in cardiology services in Suffolk County, NY, and across the country. Even though more attention is directed towards the unique way that heart disease can impact the lives of women these days, the fact remains that one in three women will die as a result of cardiovascular disease or stroke.

One of the reasons for the disparity in positive cardiovascular outcomes between men and women is that cardiology is only now beginning to understand how cardiovascular disease uniquely presents in women. There is also a better understanding of the obstacles that women experience in getting quality cardiology care and the chronic underrepresentation of women in cardiological research. Keep reading to learn more about the specific challenges created by cardiovascular disease in women.

The Symptoms Are Different

While most people have heard the most common general symptoms of heart disease, those don’t always apply to women who are experiencing cardiological distress. For example, a common symptom of cardiovascular disease is general chest pain. However, women may experience pain in many other locations, including the neck, shoulders, jaw, back, arms, or abdomen. Women are more likely to experience other symptoms that are unrelated to chest pain, such as shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, sweating, fatigue, and indigestion. One contributing factor to the high mortality rate among women with heart disease is the failure to recognize these symptoms as indicative of cardiovascular disease, therefore preventing timely, meaningful treatment.

Risk Factors Are Magnified

Though risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol apply to both men and women, other factors are more Peconic Bay Medical Center_Understanding Heart Disease in Women_IMAGE2.jpeglikely to have a magnified impact on the cardiovascular health of female patients. Risk factors such as stress, diabetes, depression, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, inflammatory diseases, and family history will have a profound effect on cardiovascular disease in women.

It’s Not Age Dependent

While the risk of developing cardiovascular disease escalates as both men and women age, there’s not as clear a line of demarcation of that risk in women where age is concerned. More younger women are impacted by cardiological disease than men of a similar age, so the risk of developing CVD isn’t as predictable using age as a factor. Women under the age of 65 should be routinely screened for heart disease and should understand how family history could play a role in the likelihood that they may develop it.

Lowering the Risk of CVD

Though genetics and family history are powerful risk factors for development of cardiovascular disease in women, there are many steps that the individual can take to offset some of that inherited risk. Undertaking healthy lifestyle changes such as moving more, eating smarter, eating more colorful nutrient-dense foods, and achieving mental wellness can dramatically cut the risk of developing CVD. Other steps to moderate risk behaviors can include weight management, tobacco cessation, and routine cardiological evaluation and care. Those measures can further reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease among women.

Though cardiology specialists in Suffolk County, NY, have more tools now than ever before for treating cardiovascular disease in women, it remains the number one cause of death and disability both domestically and abroad. To gain a deeper understanding of the specific challenges involved in women’s cardiovascular health, contact Peconic Bay Medical Center at (631) 548-6000.