Women and Heart Disease

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hands making a heartFebruary is Heart Month and a good time for women to focus on their heart health. Here are some facts about women and cardiovascular disease which you may not know.

  1. 51.9% of high blood pressure deaths, otherwise known as hypertension or the “silent killer”, are in women, and out of all women, 57.6% of Black females have hypertension (high blood pressure) which is more than any other race or ethnicity.
  2. Among females 20 years and older, nearly 45% are living with some form of cardiovascular disease and less than 50% of women entering pregnancy in the United States have good heart health.
  3. Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of new moms and accounts for over 1/3 of maternal deaths. Black women have some of the highest maternal mortality rates.
  4. Cardiovascular disease kills more than all forms of cancer combined and yet only 44% of women recognize that cardiovascular disease is their greatest health threat.
  5. While there is an estimated 4.1 million female stroke survivors living today, approximately 57.5% of total stroke deaths are in women.
  6. Going through menopause does not cause cardiovascular disease, but the approach of menopause marks a point in midlife when women’s cardiovascular risk factors can accelerate. Making increased focus on health during this pivotal life stage crucial.
  7. Women are often less likely to receive bystander CPR because rescuers often fear accusations of inappropriate touching, sexual assault or injuring the victim.
  8. Someone can actually have a heart attack without knowing it because there are hard to recognize symptoms.

Women can suffer a heart attack and not know it. Often these “silent symptoms” are hard for women to recognize and share with health providers. They often will think that the symptoms are due to anxiety and dismiss them. Women need to be advocates if they feel there is “just something wrong”. It can be hard to do, and sometimes bringing along a family member or friend can help. Here are some of those “silent signs”.

  1. Indigestion
  2. A case of the flu
  3. Feeling that you have a strained muscle in your chest or your upper back.
  4. The feeling may not be in the chest, but may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms.
  5. Prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained.

So, take time in February to check in with your body and your health care provider if you feel that you might be missing a sign of cardiovascular disease.

Source:  American Heart Association