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Heart and Vascular Care

Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease is truly is an equal opportunity killer.

Women and Heart Disease: Know the Facts

While heart disease is often thought of as a disease that mostly affects men, it truly is an equal opportunity killer. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over the past decade heart disease killed about the same number of women as it did men.

Following are some other facts from the CDC about women and heart disease:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. and is responsible for 1 in 4 female deaths.
  • It is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the U.S.
  • Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of heart disease had no previous symptoms.

Know Your Risk Factors

Some heart disease risk factors are the same for both men and women; however, some are unique to women. Following is a list of women’s risk factors:

  • High cholesterol – High LDL (low-density lipoproteins) leads to plaque build-up in arteries.
  • High blood pressure – Keep it under 120/80.
  • Obesity and inactivity – Some research indicates that women are less active than men.
  • Diabetes – Women are at greater risk than men if they have diabetes.
  • Mental stress and depression – Studies show that women’s hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men’s.
  • Smoking – this is another risk factor that puts women at greater risk than men for heart disease.
  • Post-menopausal women are at an increased risk. They not only develop coronary blockages in their surface arteries but also in the small vessels that supply the heart.
  • Pregnancy complications, including high blood pressure and diabetes – while temporary during pregnancy, mothers who had these complications may have a higher risk of developing them long term, thus increasing their risk of developing heart disease.

Source: The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association.

Heart Attack: Know the Signs

Women’s heart attack symptoms are often different than men’s. Women are more likely to experience:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It may last more than a few minutes, or it can go away and come back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t take chances. Call 911 immediately and get to a hospital.

Source: The American Heart Association.

Programs in the Community

ChristianaCare works hard to raise awareness of this significant public health issue. Through community education, lectures and targeted programs that are teaching women to recognize the risk factors for heart disease in themselves and others, we hope to reduce the incidence of heart disease among women in our community.

For women and their families, our heart health programs include:

Dance Your Heart Out

Each March, we hold this fun event to get the whole family moving.

Womenheart of New Castle County

Dedicated to community education and patient support for women at-risk of heart disease, this group meets regularly to discuss heart health and share information and resources.

Mended Hearts

This support group helps people understand that there can be a rich, rewarding life after a diagnosis of heart disease.

Women’s Health Lecture Series

Free lectures by experts from ChristianaCare on heart health and a range of other important and interesting health topics. Check our calendar of events frequently to learn about upcoming lectures and programs.

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