Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United states for both men and women, which makes the problem a fairly level playing field. That said, each gender has unique considerations, which is why we’re drawing attention to them here — more specifically, those that pertain to women.
Dr. Madaiah Revana and our team here at Humble Cardiology Associates want to ensure that all of our patients thoroughly understand their risks when it comes to their cardiovascular health. While the differences between men and women may not be glaring in terms of heart disease, they’re important enough that you should be aware of them.
As we mentioned, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the US — nearly 350,000 men die each year compared to nearly 300,000 women. In terms of risk, one in four deaths among men is attributable to heart disease compared to one in five in women.
As you can see, more men die of heart disease, but the numbers among women are high enough to represent serious cause for concern.
It should come as no surprise that reproductive issues account for many heart-related risk factors among women, which include:
Each of these conditions can increase your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), which, in turn, places you at higher risk for heart attack or stroke. To give you an idea of how big a risk these conditions represent, women under the age of 40 with endometriosis have a 400% higher risk of developing CAD.
Let’s start with the good news: Women are protected against heart attacks by their estrogen hormones, which means they’re generally older when they have their first heart attack (70 compared to 66 in men).
The bad news is that the advanced age and generally smaller hearts in women mean that women don’t recover as well as men after a heart attack.
Another reason why women don’t fare as well as men after a heart attack is that they’ve often ignored other comorbidities, such as high blood pressure.
Another divider between men and women are the symptoms of a heart attack. We may be all too familiar with the sudden clutching of the chest in agony, but women can feel a heart attack differently. For example, women having a heart attack can just experience extreme fatigue or shortness of breath.
As another example, while one of the hallmarks of a heart attack is pain in your left arm, women can feel this pain in either arm, as well as in their jaws and backs.
The bottom line is that heart disease in women is serious, and we urge you to stay one step ahead of your heart health through regular evaluations. To get started, contact one of our two offices in Humble or Houston, Texas.