Cardiovascular Disease in Women

By Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum | Posted Aug 28, 2022

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women worldwide. Despite this, women have been underrepresented in cardiovascular trials. To close this gap, it is crucial to understand the unique risk factors and manifestations of heart disease in women.

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Know your cardiovascular disease risk factors.

There are many risk factors for heart disease, some of which are unique to women.

  • Diabetes – Diabetes causes blood sugars to rise. This can increase your risk for multiple medical issues, including heart disease.
  • High Blood Pressure – High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the force of blood against your artery walls is constantly high. This can create damage and therefore increase your risk of heart problems.
  • High Cholesterol – High Cholesterol can be inherited, or it can be a result of lifestyle choices. It also can create blockages that restrict blood flow. This increases your risk for cardiovascular problems.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy opens windows to potential issues such as arrhythmias, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia. Many of these conditions can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking – Smoking can alter the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratios and thus increase your risk of many medical problems, including heart disease.

How does it manifest in women?

The manifestations of cardiovascular disease can also be different in women. For example, heart attacks in women often present with atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, back and jaw pain, and fatigue rather than the more classic chest pain and left arm pain. This can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Women are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than men and yet they are often underrepresented in cardiovascular trials. To rectify gap, it is crucial to understand the unique risk factors and manifestations of cardiovascular disease in women. Doing so can improve the early detection and treatment of this deadly disease.