How Common Is Heart Disease In Women?

Much of the information on heart disease has been focused on men. In the past, heart disease was predominantly a male health problem. In recent years, heart disease has become more common in women. How common is heart disease in women?

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According to the National Institutes of Health, heart disease is now the number one cause of death and disability of women in the United States. Women of advanced age are at greater risk than younger women. African American and Latina women are at greater risk than Caucasian American women.

Approximately twenty-five percent of the deaths of women are attributed to heart disease. Women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men. Why women are more likely to die from heart attacks is not well understood. However, women may delay getting emergency medical treatment immediately when heart attack symptoms occur.

Many women experience slightly different symptoms of a heart attack than men experience. Women may have a general feeling of malaise or illness and chest pressure or pain in the arm. Some women develop tooth or jaw pain during a heart attack. Shortness of breath and sweating are common symptoms of a heart attack.

It is understandable why some women who experience a sense of not being well and arm or dental pain may not think they are having a heart attack. Some women who experience chest pain dismiss the pain as bad heartburn.

One factor that may play a role in heart disease among women is the use of birth control pills. Women who are over the age of thirty-five who take birth control pills are susceptible to heart disease if they smoke, have diabetes, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Estrogen replacement therapy was once thought to decrease a woman’s risk of heart disease. Now, research indicates that estrogen replacement therapy may be detrimental to a woman’s heart health. There are things that a woman can do to improve her heart health and reduce her risk of heart disease.

If a woman has high cholesterol or high blood pressure, receiving medical treatment for those conditions can reduce the risk of heart disease. Women should have their cholesterol levels and blood pressure checked regularly.

Eating a healthy diet and doing aerobic exercise improves heart health. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce heart disease risk. Though smoking is associated with lung disease, smoking also increases a woman’s risk of heart disease.

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