News you can use: Heart disease & women

Published on February 6, 2013

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Over one quarter of all deaths are from heart disease. It is also a major cause of disability. The risk of heart disease increases as you age. You have a greater risk of heart disease if you are a man over age 45 or a woman over age 55. You also are at greater risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.

Also, many people think of heart disease as a man’s problem, but women can and do get heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. It is also a leading cause of disability among women.

“One important thing to note about women and heart disease is that their symptoms can be atypical,” said UofL Physicians cardiologist Dr. Marcus Stoddard. “Shortness of breath, upper back pressure, dizziness, lightheadedness and other flu-like symptoms might indicate heart problems in women, so they need to be diligent in communicating with their health care providers when they experience any of these conditions.”

The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time. It’s the major reason people have heart attacks. Prevention is important: two-thirds of women who have a heart attack fail to make a full recovery.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do reduce your chances of getting heart disease.

Know your blood pressure and keep it under control

  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get tested for diabetes and if you have it, keep it under control
  • Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and keep them under control
  • Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight

To learn more or to make an appointment with the cardiology specialists of UofL Physicians, call 502-813-6500.

(Source: NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)