Heart Disease: The Number One Cause Of Death In American Women

Woman with heart painMany people are surprised by the fact that heart disease is the number one cause of death in American women. While the amount of media coverage given to other diseases seems to drown out this fact, it’s important to make sure that women are educated on how to keep their hearts healthy. 

Facts To Take “To Heart”

  • Heart disease affects more women than men.
  • Although the facts may seem shocking,  1 in 4 women die from heart disease, whereas 1 in 30 die from breast cancer.
  • 23% of women die within 1 year after a heart attack, 46% of women become disabled with heart failure within 6 years of having a heart attack, and 66% of women fail to make a full recovery.
  • After menopause the risk factors for heart disease increase.

These startling facts should be enough to encourage women of all ages to pay attention to their heart and reduce their risks for heart disease.

Simple Definitions

Heart disease occurs when the arteries supplying blood to our heart become blocked or narrowed due to plaque. Fat and cholesterol are the components of plaque which build up in our arteries reducing blood flow to the heart. Once you have heart disease, you have it for the rest of your life. The arteries remain damaged, and will continue to get worse over time unless changes are made.

A heart attack occurs when an artery becomes fully blocked preventing needed nutrients and oxygen to reach the heart.

The Silent Heart Attack

The classic symptoms of a heart attack that most of us are familiar with are, in fact, quite different for women than for men. Men normally have severe chest pains, shortness of breath, and the attack usually occurs after exercise or some exertion.

On the other hand, women have very different symptoms. Women undergoing a heart attack experience a temporary blockage that damages the heart even while asleep or at rest. A woman’s symptoms are much more subtle than a man. They include:

  • Discomfort in the shoulder blades, neck, upper back, or abdomen
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

There are two other differences regarding a heart attack in women. They tend to have blockages in their smaller arteries known as coronary microvascular disease, plus women can be more susceptible to a heart attack when under severe emotional stress.

Ways You Can Prevent And Control Heart Disease In Long Beach CA

There are multiple risk factors for heart disease in women that can be controlled with a few changes to lifestyle and habits no matter your age.

  • Stop smoking or don’t start!
  • Control your blood sugar.
  • Keep blood pressure under control.
  • Know your family history of heart disease.
  • Stay active and exercise frequently.
  • Watch cholesterol and eat a heart healthy low fat diet.
  • Manage your weight.

Take action to control your risks. Ask Dr. Daniel Bethencourt in Orange County and Los Angeles County, CA what else you can do to either prevent or control heart disease.