Heart Disease & Women
Contrary to common belief, women and heart disease is not an uncommon combination. About ten million American women have some form of cardiovascular disease; and, at the age of 65, one woman in three has heart disease.
Men vs. Women
Women do not experience “textbook cases of angina (heart attacks) and other heart disease symptoms,” explains L. W., M.D., a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at The University Hospital, part of the Health Alliance, “because the text books were written to describe men’s symptoms.”
While men are likely to feel the “classic” crushing chest pain, or pain running down the left arm, women can experience a wider, more confusing array of symptoms, which can be misread as overwork, the flu or a gallbladder attack. Symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness or heartburn may in fact be signs of an oxygen-starved heart.
Hormones and Heart Disease
It is believed that estrogen protects women from heart disease. However, around the time of menopause, whether occurring naturally or surgically, estrogen levels begin to drop.
Once estrogen levels begin to drop, cholesterol levels begin to climb, particularly the bad or LDL cholesterol. This is often accompanied by a change in arteries becoming more prone to plaque development and constriction.
In addition, fat levels generally increase with age. These factors, and other complicated changes in the cardiovascular system, significantly increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack around the time of, and after menopause.
The message is simple. Heart disease is controllable. In many cases it is avoidable! Eliminate the unhealthy behaviors which cause heart disease. Be aware of the risks and talk to your physician. Educate yourself to make informed decisions. Take charge of your heart health!
Symptoms Of Heart Attacks:
- Discomfort, pressure or pain anywhere in the chest, abdomen or below the rib cage
- Heart palpitations or a “fluttering” heart beat
- Chest pain or discomfort that develops during walking or exercise but subsides when the activity stops
- Pain that appears during the night or in the morning and subsides
- Shortness of breath, breathlessness, nausea, indigestion, gas (sometimes after eating)
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