The term heart disease refers to various heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack. The most common cause of heart disease in both men and women is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. This condition is called coronary artery disease and occurs over time. This is the main reason why people have heart attacks.
Although heart disease is often thought of as a male disease, almost as many women as men die from heart disease each year. Heart diseases that affect women more than men; Coronary microvascular disease (MVD) – a problem that affects the small arteries of the heart, and Broken heart syndrome – is extreme emotional stress that leads to severe but often short-term heart muscle failure.
The older a woman gets, the more likely she is to develop heart disease. But women of all ages should be concerned about heart disease. All women can take steps to prevent it by practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Women should learn about their unique heart disease symptoms and reduce their risks.
Cardiac Diagnostic Tests
Blood tests and heart health tests can help find heart disease or identify problems that could lead to heart disease. There are several different heart health tests. Your doctor will decide which test or tests you need based on your symptoms, risk factors, and medical history.
- Cardiac Catheterization is a medical procedure used to diagnose and treat some heart conditions. For the procedure, your doctor puts a catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube) into a blood vessel in your arm, groin, or neck, and threads it to your heart.
- A cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan is a painless imaging test that uses x-rays to take detailed pictures of your heart and its blood vessels. Computers can combine these pictures to create a three-dimensional (3D) model of the whole heart.
- Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless imaging test that uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create detailed pictures of your heart. It can help your doctor figure out whether you have heart disease, and if so, how severe it is.
- A chest x-ray creates pictures of the organs and structures inside your chest, such as your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It can reveal signs of heart failure, as well as lung disorders and other causes of symptoms not related to heart disease.
- Coronary angiography (angiogram) is a procedure that uses contrast dye and x-ray pictures to look at the insides of your arteries. It can show whether plaque is blocking your arteries and how severe the blockage is.
- Echocardiography, or echo, is a painless test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart. The pictures show the size and shape of your heart. They also show how well your heart’s chambers and valves are working.
- An electrocardiogram, also called an ECG or EKG, is a painless test that detects and records your heart’s electrical activity. It shows how fast your heart is beating and whether its rhythm is steady or irregular.
- Stress testing looks at how your heart works during physical stress. It can help to diagnose coronary artery disease, and to check how severe it is. It can also check for other problems, including heart valve disease and heart failure.
Symptoms Of Heart Disease
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes 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.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Risk Factors For Heart Disease
Various traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity, affect both men and women. But other factors may play a larger role in the development of heart disease in women.
Heart disease risk factors for women include:
- Diabetes. Women with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease than men with diabetes. Also, because diabetes can change the way you feel pain, you have a higher risk of having a silent heart attack without symptoms.
- Mental stress and depression. Stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men. Depression makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment.
- To smoke. Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
- Inactivity. Lack of physical activity is an important risk factor for heart disease. Some studies have found that women are less active than men.
- Menopause. Low estrogen levels after menopause pose a significant risk of developing disease in smaller blood vessels.
- Pregnancy complications. High blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy can increase the mother’s long-term risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. The conditions also make women more likely to develop heart disease.
- Family history of early heart disease. This appears to be a greater risk factor in women than in men.
- Inflammatory diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and others can increase the risk of heart disease in both men and women.
- Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously. Women under 65 – especially those with a family history of heart disease – should also pay close attention to heart disease risk factors.
Is It Possible To Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease?
Heart disease is preventable. Here are the best tips:
- Make an appointment with a healthcare professional as soon as possible to find out your risk of heart disease.
- Quit smoking. Just one year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease will be reduced by 50 percent.
- Begin an exercise program. Walking just 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Change your eating routine. Learn healthy cooking methods. With smart substitutes, healthy snack ideas, and better preparation methods, you can achieve success. For example, with poultry, use leaner light meat (breasts) instead of fatter dark meat (legs and thighs) and be sure to remove the skin.