Ladies: This Is Your Heart

Ladies, this is your heart calling. I have a message you need to hear…

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Heart disease is killing you just as often as it does a man. Multiple recent studies report that women are more likely to die in the hospital than men because you receive less aggressive treatment since your symptoms are not as easy to recognize as heart disease symptoms.

While you have many of the same social and career opportunities as men, you are not receiving the same medical and preventive health care as men. Men experience more heart problems at a younger age that you might because your hormones are protective, for a time.

Even though men experience major heart problems sooner, your heart may be suffering from microscopic changes in your heart vessels. Your heart has narrower vessels than men, and so you are more likely to have microvascular disease. CT scans and other imaging techniques show these differences. You are often sent home after repeated trips to the hospital for testing because you suffer symptoms of chest pain (angina) 20% more often but don’t show the same results in testing.

Coronary heart disease (CAD) rates have actually increased in women younger than 55. And the data shows that CAD should be managed differently in women. As a matter of fact, as a women, you are more likely to die of CAD than a man and more women have died of CAD than of all cancer deaths, including breast cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s’s disease, and accidents combined.

As a woman, you have a higher risk of complications and death and experience less relief from angina than do men after Coronary Artery Bypass surgery, even though you are a small percentage (30%) of the group of people needing bypass surgery. This sex discrepancy seems to be reduced when an off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery is performed.

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Traditional risk factors such as age, family history of CAD, high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, smoking, and physical inactivity are important in predicting your risk. Age and increased weight also significantly increases your heart disease risk.

Tips for Listening to Your Heart

  • Get treatment. Women have a much lower tendency to seek out treatment than men.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Eat a low fat and low sugar diet. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit.
  • Limit intake of alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get some help to stop smoking.
  • Listen to any warning signs your body gives you. Typical symptoms of chest pain are not found in women during a heart attack. Look out for difficulty breathing, heart flutters, heartburn or nausea and vomiting associated with pain in your chest, shoulder, jaw, back, and arm.
  • Complete all risk evaluations as recommended. Advocate for yourself.
  • Prevent diabetes and control it.

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