Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined, according to the America Heart Association.
Some facts about heart disease in women:
- #1 killer in women causing 1 in 3 deaths yearly
- Heart related deaths in women have nearly doubled in the past 15 years
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease
- The symptoms are often different in women than men and therefore often misunderstood
- Women more commonly experience silent heart attacks than men
- Common symptoms of heart attacks in women include: shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea/vomiting, back or jaw or upper abdominal pain, not necessarily the classic of chest pain
- Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for African American women
Heart disease has many causes. Often, heart disease is initially caused by atherosclerosis, or a build-up of plaque on the arterial walls, causing the arteries to become narrow which raises blood pressure. This can limit or even stop blood flow through areas of the body and heart and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Other causes include congestive heart failure where the heart cannot pump efficiently or effectively, dysrhythmias or abnormal beats, and heart valve problems.
Many issues can put you at risk, some you can and cannot control. By making healthier choices, your risks can be limited. Choosing to not smoke, or quitting now will help. Manage your blood sugar, keep your blood pressure under control, lower your cholesterol, stay active, lose weight, eat healthy and know your family history.
We recommend an annual exam and blood work yearly with your primary care provider. At this appointment, you should discuss your risks for heart disease. Screening is still the best method for determining risks along with gathering an accurate family history. Accurate and close control of your blood pressure is pivotal. If you find your blood pressure is increasing, early intervention is needed to minimize your risk of lasting damage and heart disease.
Please visit the American Heart Association website for more information at:
~ Erinn Fuller, Certified Physician Assistant