Heart Disease in Women
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death of American women. Stroke is No. 3. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects a woman’s heart and blood vessels. One out of every 10 women between the ages of 45 and 64 has some form of CVD. Once a woman reaches 65, this increases to 1 out of every 4. Every year about 500,000 women have a heart attack and about 370,000 of them die. And, almost 100,000 women die each year of stroke.
What are the Cardiovascular Diseases of the Heart?
The most common CVDs are:
- Coronary heart disease is when plaque builds up and blocks or slows down the blood flow through the vessels in the heart. Some symptoms are:
- Angina – chest pain caused when the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked for a short time
- Heart attack – when areas of the heart die because the flow of blood and oxygen is blocked off for a longer time
- Heart failure – when the heart can not pump enough blood out of the heart as it should and the body does not get enough blood and oxygen
- High blood pressure – when the pressure inside the walls of blood vessels is higher than normal
- Stroke – when a blood vessel that takes blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or bursts and a area of the brain (and the area of the body the body it controls) can’t work as it should
What are factors put you a risk for CVD?
Risk factors are things that increase your chances of getting a disease. Some risk factors you cannot control. But, some you can control and even change. Some women’s risk are higher than others.
The main risk factors for CVD that you can’t control are age and a family history of CVD. The factors you can control or change are:
- Being overweight
- Having diabetes
- Having high blood cholesterol
- Not being physically active
What Can you do?
If you have at least 1 risk factor for CVD you should learn how to control it or prevent. By taking active role in your health care, you can make a difference. Tell your doctor or nurse what’s going on with your health. Ask questions or talk with about concerns you have. Ask if there are any medical tests you should take to see if you already have CVD.
Learn which lifestyle changes can help lower your risks. Making changes in your habits is the first step in preventing or controlling CVD. Making these changes is very important if you are African-American or over the age of 55.
Do you have any of these risk factors and habits you can control or change?
- Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
- Get up and get active.
- If overweight, work on losing weight.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.
- Reduce your blood cholesterol levels.
- If you take medicine for blood pressure or pre-diabetes, take it exactly as you should.
The Good News!
Changing your habits isn’t easy – but it works. It can lower your risks for CVD. If you already have CVD, it can help your heart and blood vessels get healthier. Here’s how:
- Once you stop smoking, within a few years your risks for heart disease will be the same as that of a non-smoker.
- Getting more exercise can help you lose weight, prevent and control high blood pressure, increase your good cholesterol levels and can even help prevent and control diabetes.
- By eating less fat and cholesterol, more fruits and vegetables and watching how much salt you use, you can help reduce high blood pressure and bad cholesterol and take off extra pounds.
- If you take off extra weight it can lower your risk for CVD, help prevent or control diabetes (if you have it) and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
It’s up to you. By making some effort the heart you save may be your own.Tags: high blood pressure, chest pain, Cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, heart failure, Diabetes, heart attack, Stroke, Aging-associated diseases, Coronary heart disease