Structurally, there isn’t a great difference between a man’s cardiovascular system and a woman's, but there are variations in the way heart disease can present itself, not to mention certain gender-specific risks.
The highly qualified cardiology team here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists wants to take this opportunity to highlight some of the unique characteristics of heart disease among our female patients. By understanding and recognizing these differences, you can better monitor your heart health and take action when needed.
Understanding your risks
The American Heart Association reports that 90% of women, at some point in their lives, have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Though this statistic may seem frightening, it’s important to underscore another statistic — 80% of heart disease is preventable.
One of the primary concerns when it comes to women and cardiovascular health is the ever-changing levels of hormones, namely estrogen. Women are at highest risk for heart disease as they pass through menopause, and their estrogen levels drop off. This transition often leads to a change in fat distribution, as well as higher cholesterol levels, both of which are big risk factors when it comes to heart disease.
Another factor that concerns us is whether you’ve had any pregnancy complications in the past that have left you more vulnerable to heart disease. As examples, if you developed preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or gestational diabetes during any of your pregnancies, you’re at a heightened risk for developing heart disease in the future.
Know the signs
If we were to follow Hollywood, a person having a heart attack suddenly clutches at their chest when they’re having a heart attack. Although there’s some merit to this as chest pain is a common symptom, there can be much more to heart attacks, especially among women.
In the following, we list heart attack symptoms and indicate which genders commonly experience them:
- Chest pain — both genders, but not always in women
- Nausea and/or vomiting — both genders
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or back — both genders, but women often experience upper back pain on the left hand side
- Shortness of breath — both genders
- Pain or pressure in your lower chest and abdomen — mostly women
- Fainting — women
- Indigestion — women
- Fatigue — women
As you can see, women experience a broader range of symptoms that often include their gastrointestinal systems.
Staying one step ahead of heart disease
The best way to understand your risks and to learn more about the signs of heart disease is to come see us for an evaluation. During your visit, we review your medical history and collect current information about your health to determine your risks.
As we mentioned, most heart disease is preventable, and we can help you devise a plan that will keep your cardiovascular as strong and healthy as possible.
To get started, contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.