Heart Disease in Women – Facts and Statistics
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. For some people, this may come as a surprise as heart disease particularly heart attacks have traditionally been associated with men. Heart attacks in women are not uncommon but they may ignore the signs which are sometimes different from those that occur in men. This is one of the reasons why heart disease causes increased mortality in women. Since women do not recognize the signs of a heart attack for what they are, they are less likely to seek emergency medical care and the condition often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed. To avoid this, women must know and understand the significant symptoms that may help them identify the occurence of heart attack.
Cardiovascular disease is NOT just a man’s disease
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women over age 25 in the United States, regardless of race or ethnicity. The death rate from cardiovascular diseases has decreased among men, but continues to increase in women.
Unfortunately, only 1 in 3 women identify cardiovascular disease as the greatest health problem facing women today. Most women think that cancer is the leading cause of death in women. But, cardiovascular disease is the single leading cause of death for women in America and claims the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined.
What causes cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease is a broad term that includes a variety of heart and blood vessel conditions, such as coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, vascular disease, aorta disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, abnormal heart rhythms, congenital heart disease and many other heart and blood vessel conditions.
The most common cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis . Atherosclerosis is the build-up of cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaque) on the inner walls of the arteries that restricts blood flow to the heart (coronary artery disease).
Without adequate blood, the heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to work properly. This is called ischemia. Ischemia causes symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain or angina; and when one or more of the coronary arteries becomes completely blocked, a heart attack (injury to the heart muscle) can occur.
What are the symptoms of cardiovascular disease in women?
Symptoms of cardiovascular disease tend to occur about 10 years later in women than in men.While chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack, women often have different symptoms of coronary artery disease than men.Symptoms of a heart attack in women include:
Pain or discomfort in the chest, left arm or back
Unusually rapid heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Nausea or fatigue
Common signs of heart attack and stroke
A heart attack occurs when heart disease has reached the point where blood stops flowing to the muscle of the heart. The most common sign of heart attack in men is chest discomfort that includes squeezing, pressure, or pain. It used to be thought that only chest pain was a sign of heart attack, but it’s possible to have discomfort that doesn’t register as painful. This discomfort may also be present in your arms, back, neck, abdomen, or jaw.
During a heart attack, you may have:
shortness of breath
profuse sweating for no apparent reason
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