10 Facts Every Woman Should Know About Heart Disease
Feb 1, 2018
Nearly every minute, a woman dies from heart disease in the United States – it is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
When it comes to heart disease, women experience unique causes, symptoms and outcomes compared to men. In addition, certain conditions appear to increase heart disease risk in women, including pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, gestational diabetes, migraine headaches with aura, early onset menopause and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Holly Andersen, director of education and outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Dr. Jennifer Haythe, a cardiologist specializing in cardiac health during pregnancy at the Center for Advanced Cardiac Care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, say more work needs to be done. Here’s why:
- Women are more likely to die from heart disease than men, according to the AHA.
- Despite outreach efforts, a Women’s Heart Alliance survey of more than 1,000 women between 25 and 60 years of age found that 45 percent of women still don’t know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.
- Women are less inclined to call 911 when they believe they may be experiencing heart attack symptoms.
- Cardiovascular disease complicates up to four percent of pregnancies, and that number has been increasing.
- Women’s heart attack symptoms are often different from men’s. They may experience shortness of breath, nausea, palpitations, jaw discomfort or overwhelming fatigue, according to the AHA.
- Women are less likely to be referred for cardiac rehab after a heart attack.
- Women’s heart disease is under-researched: only 35 percent of participants in clinical trials of cardiovascular disease are women, and just 31 percent of the studies report outcomes by gender.
- Pre-eclampsia is an independent predictor of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. Women who have had pre-eclampsia should be mindful of having their blood pressure, fasting glucose and cholesterol checked annually.
- Women are less likely to receive bystander CPR in public than men (45 percent in men versus 39 percent in women). Learning Hands-Only CPR can help save a life. Visit handsonly.nyc to learn more.
- Recent blood pressure guidelines from the American College of Cardiology recommend all people to have a blood pressure target of 120/80 or lower. Additionally, after the age of 65, hypertension (high blood pressure) is more common in women. Stay up-to-date on your annual physical and have your doctor check your blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare delivery systems, whose organizations are dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care and service to patients in the New York metropolitan area, nationally, and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and innovative, patient-centered clinical care.
NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions:
- NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the Honor Roll of “America’s Best Hospitals.”
- NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network comprises hospitals and other facilities in the New York metropolitan region.
- NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services, which connects medical experts with patients in their communities.
- NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health, encompassing ambulatory care network sites and community healthcare initiatives, including NewYork Quality Care, the Accountable Care Organization jointly established by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia.
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