Women and Cardiovascular Disease
April 6, 2011
Women and Cardiovascular Disease
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is not a disease affecting only men? Cardiovascular disease has been found to be the number one killer of women. According to Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) experts women die from cardiovascular disease one in two; compared with one in twenty-five die from breast cancer.1
According to research women may not be as aggressively treated as men; and another known fact is related to symptoms which may vary differently from men who are having a heart attack compared to women. Within 1 year of a man having a heart attack statistics show ...view middle of the document...
Over time, cardiovascular disease can weaken the heart muscle. This may lead to heart failure, a serious condition where the heart can't pump blood the way that it should. An irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can also develop.
For some people, the first sign of cardiovascular disease is a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when plaque totally blocks an artery carrying blood to the heart. It also can happen if a plaque deposit breaks off and clots a coronary artery.
Symptoms of heart attack include pain in the neck, jaw or back, nausea or vomiting, feeling weak, light-headed or faint, chest pain or discomfort, pain or discomfort in arms or shoulders, and shortness of breath. It is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 9–1–1. A person's chances of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is given to the victim as soon as possible. The American Heart Association reports 785,000 Americans have a primary heart attack and another 470,000 have subsequent heart attack each year thereafter. The Centers for Diseases Control reports that in 1999 approximately half of all cardiac deaths occurred prior to patient receiving emergency services and before hospital treatment could be administered.
The risk factors that may increase your chances of getting cardiovascular disease include alcohol use, blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, diet, heredity, obesity, physical inactivity, and tobacco use. Knowing these risk factors and making a step in changing life habits will help decrease your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
One of the arguments related to women and cardiovascular disease is related to estrogen. Before menopause it has been found that estrogen helps high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, helps to decrease low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and to help dilate vessels. Researchers say that if estrogen is taken early on in menopause that it is better for the woman and if you wait until later in life after menopause and begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could increase your risk for cardiovascular disease because the estrogen can make the plaque that has already been laid down in the vessels, unstable and break of and block coronary arteries therefore causing a heart attack or myocardial infarction.4
Once a woman has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease it’s important to know how to get treatment. The first and foremost important tip if you are concerned that you may be at risk for cardiovascular disease is to inform your personal primary care provider. Ask questions and voice your concerns whether its cardiac symptoms you may be having or if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Your personal primary care provider will be able to run tests to determine your risk for cardiovascular disease by checking blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and most importantly finding out what your family’s history of heart...