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Women’s Heart Disease Risk Factors & Warning Signs

Women’s Heart Disease Risk  Factors & Warning SignsHeart disease is the narrowing of the arteries over time, due to a build-up of plaque that can in some cases cause a complete blockage of the blood vessels or coronary arteries, and it’s the number one killer of women, taking 1 out of 3 women’s lives each year. With so much focus on other diseases that affect women, like breast cancer and autoimmune disorders, heart disease is often overlooked and underestimated. One woman dies every minute of cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms in Women
• Excessive sweating
• Sleep disturbances
• Shortness of breath, fatigue
• Pain in the jaw
• Shoulder pain
• Upper back pain
• Neck pain
• Nausea
• Abdominal pain

Many factors play a role in how heart disease affects women; a leading culprit is hormonal changes. When hormones are out of balance, additional factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight gain arise, and all of these symptoms contribute to heart disease.

Linking hormonal changes to the increase in women developing heart disease are also marked by risk factors such as having had hypertension or diabetes in pregnancy. Along with menopause and the related hormonal fluctuations, eating an unhealthy diet, having uncontrolled hypertension or high cholesterol, being overweight, mental anxiety or unresolved stress, and smoking or previously smoking all play a considerable role in heart disease. For men, many cardiac issues are brought on by stress and unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits.1

According to the American Heart Association, “Heart disease risk rises for everyone as they age, but for women symptoms can become more evident after the onset of menopause.

Menopause does not cause cardiovascular diseases. However, certain risk factors increase around the time of menopause and a high-fat diet, smoking or other unhealthy habits begun earlier in life can also take a toll, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and an American Heart Association volunteer.”2

Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD)
The tiniest blood vessels are connected to the larger vessels and arteries, but these small delicate vessels can become damaged and create blockages due to the inner vessel’s inability to produce proper blood flow. More women than men have this disorder.

The American Heart Association states the following, “Women may be at risk for coronary MVD if they have lower than normal estrogen levels at any point in their adult lives. Low estrogen levels before menopause can raise younger women’s risk for coronary MVD and can be caused by stress and also a functioning problem with the ovaries.

“Women who have high blood pressure before menopause, especially high systolic blood pressure, are at increased risk for coronary MVD. After menopause, women tend to have more of the traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis, which also puts them at higher risk for coronary MVD.”3

Depression plays a role in both pre and post-heart attacks. For example, stress can lead to high blood pressure, arterial damage and a weakened immune system, which can exacerbate a myocardial infarction. For those individuals that have suffered a heart attack or those that have undergone heart procedures, depression can linger for weeks following their episode. If the condition is not dealt with, it can lead to chronic depression, which will hinder healing and may because additional health issues to arise.

Both Men and Women can be treated successfully if heart disease is caught early. Usually keeping weight down with a healthy diet, keeping the heart muscle strong and oxygen-rich blood flowing through cardiovascular exercise are helpful, along with medications like ACE inhibitors, alpha-beta blockers, and cholesterol-lipid lowering drugs. In certain situations, stents, angioplasty, bypass grafts, and other procedures may be necessary.

If you believe you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911! If you’re having initial symptoms that come and go, contact your physician immediately.

Your Best You, P.A.
Your Best You’s goal is to assist every patient in achieving and maintaining their best state of health possible by providing compassionate, collaborative, and comprehensive care so that every person leaves better than they arrived.

Your Best You, P.A., is a primary care and diabetes specialty practice focused on delivering unique and personalized health management services to the community. Primary care, diabetes care, and chronic disease management are their specialties. Their patients are appreciated as the expert of their life story, and Your Best You aims to assist with health-related goal setting to the best of their capacity. Their team designs treatment, management, and education plans that are based on the most current standard of care to optimize the potential and goal attainment for every patient.

To make an appointment, please call Your Best You today at (813) 936-2609.

Both Men and Women can be treated successfully if heart disease is caught early. Usually keeping weight down with a healthy diet, keeping the heart muscle strong and oxygen-rich blood flowing through cardiovascular exercise are helpful, along with medications like ACE inhibitors, alpha-beta blockers, and cholesterol-lipid lowering drugs. In certain situations, stents, angioplasty, bypass grafts, and other procedures may be necessary.

If you believe you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911! If you’re having initial symptoms that come and go, contact your physician immediately.

Your Best You
15511 North Florida Avenue
Suite 502 – Tampa, FL 33613
813-936-2609 | www.ybyclinic.com

References:
1. Barrett-Connor E, PubMed, “Hormones and heart disease in women: the timing hypothesis.” Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.,Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Sep 1;166(5):506-10.
2. American Heart Association. “Menopause and Heart Disease.” Heart.org 2015, Dallas, TX.
3. American Heart Association. Coronary Microvascular Disease: “What is Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD)?” heart.org 2019, Dallas, Tx.

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