Is Heart Disease a Female Problem?
Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is a term describing a range of conditions which make the normal functioning of heart and blood vessels impossible. There is a wide spectrum of such diseases with different severity.
There is a belief that heart disease is an issue touching on the men in general. But in reality, it’s one of the major causes of female death in the United States. According to the statistics, approximately 1 in 4 deaths in women every year happens because of heart diseases. It means that more than 300,000 of women in the U.S. die of various heart diseases per year. These statistics are quite deplorable.
About 6% of U.S. women who are in their 20s and older suffer from coronary heart disease and coronary artery disease. Both of the diseases belong to the most frequently developing heart diseases in women. The older the women become, the higher a probability of heart disease development in women grows.
Early Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women
The problem with diagnosing and treating a heart disease in women is that the majority of women feel no symptoms of any heart disease till a heart attack happens. There are still some early symptoms of cardiovascular issue in women able to indicate that something goes wrong:
- Angina, meaning chest pain and discomfort that may be ranging from dull pain to sharp and heavy pain.
- Jaw, neck, and throat pain
- Upper stomach area pain
- Upper back pain
- Constant tiredness
- Breathing difficulty
- Skin color changes (gray, bluish or pale tints)
- Excessive sweating
- Arm pain (especially left arm)
The mentioned symptoms may become apparent at any time of the day during both physical load and rest period. Moreover, it’s more typical for women than for men to feel these symptoms when resting or even while sleeping.
And this is not the full list of symptoms since many of them may emerge in the course of heart disease progression. Also, the symptoms in women may vary depending on numerous factors such as heart disease type, the overall state of health, availability of overweight and obesity (in the latter case even diet pills may be helpless), underlying conditions, depression, and many others.
Once the women have noticed one or several early symptoms of heart disease, they shouldn’t leave them unattended and have to immediately seek for medical aid.
Heart Disease Risk Factors in Women
Cardiology deals with different types of heart disease in women. There are some heart diseases causes by congenital factors, meaning that the abnormal formation of heart in the womb had happened. Genetic factors also may determine the probability of heart disease development to some extent.
But besides genetic and congenital risk factors, there is also a wide spectrum of ailments and lifestyle habits which make the risk of heart disease dramatically upsurge:
- Overweight and obesity: Both of these conditions are linked to the elevation of heart diseases risk such as coronary heart diseases and heart failure. In obese women, hemodynamics worsens and heart structure negatively changes. The intake of special anti-obesity medications and fat burners may become a part of heart disease prevention.
- Diabetes: There is a scientific proof that the female diabetics are more predisposed to the development of heart disease comparing to the male diabetics. Also, since diabetes contributes to the misperception of pain sensation, the person may not timely recognize a silent heart attack.
- Depression and stress: According to the studies, both of these feelings do more harm to the woman’s heart comparing to the man’s heart. The depressed person is less likely to have the habits healthy to the heart.
- Smoking: The clinical studies have confirmed that smoking is more harmful for the woman’s heart than for the man’s heart.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Physically inactive women run a high risk of having heart disease in the future. The increase in physical activity may become a solution.
- Menopause: Menopausal and postmenopausal years are associated with a substantial decrease in estrogen levels. This leads to the occurrence of diseases which afflict blood vessels.
- Pregnancy complications: Gestational diabetes and high blood pressure which may occur during pregnancy raise the probability that the woman will have the problems with hypertension and other heart diseases in the long run.
- Family history of heart disease: If the woman has the close relatives with any heart disease, her chances to suffer from the heart disease considerably grow. This risk is higher than for men in the same situation.
- Inflammatory diseases: The women who suffer from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory medical conditions are much more prone to the development of heart disease.
When to See a Healthcare Provider?
Even if you don’t have any complaints concerning your heart health at the moment, it wouldn’t go amiss to talk to your healthcare provider in order to appraise the risk of having the heart disease. The early identification and appraisal of risks to develop the heart disease is very effective for taking timely preventive measures or for fighting the very first signs of heart disease before it actually develops and aggravates.
But if you already disturbed with some symptoms and really suspect the availability of any heart disease, you have to immediately visit your family practitioner. This medical specialist will assess your symptoms, perform a physical exam and special tests, and refer you to a cardiologist if necessary.
Some of the heart disease symptoms may be confused with the ordinary tiredness or stomach upset and simply underestimated. You should be attentive to your health in order not to miss the time and not to overlook the possibly dangerous symptoms.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack such as chest pain and pressure, difficulty breathing, severe and sudden arm pain, loss of consciousness, nausea, and excessive sweating, you have to seek for urgent medical aid.
Diagnosis of Heart Disease in Women
The healthcare provider should do an in-depth study of both a woman’s individual and family medical history in order to establish a proper heart disease diagnosis. The woman should describe her symptoms, tell when the symptoms appear, and try to characterize the symptoms’ severity. Also, the woman should inform the doctor about her lifestyle habits and intake of any medications or supplements such as HGH supplements and others.
The blood tests may serve as an instrument for estimating the probability of heart disease. Thus, a lipid profile is one of the most informative diagnostics methods for determining the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. The medical specialist can also recommend the other lipid tests if it’s deemed necessary.
After the analysis of the patient’s medical history and symptoms, the general physician or cardiologist may also perform a range of the tests for figuring out:
- Blood cell count
- Potassium and sodium levels
- Inflammation level
- Liver function
- Kidney function
- Thyroid function
The cardiologist also indicates the necessity to perform the following tests:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): This test is used for measuring electrical signals which the heart sends. It assists the healthcare providers in identifying the heart rhythm conditions and diagnosing heart attacks. The sportsmen, regardless of whether they take testosterone boosters or any other natural remedies or don’t take, have to obligatorily do electrocardiogram before sports contests. And in general, it’s the most widespread type of cardiac testing.
- Echocardiogram: This test utilizes ultrasound for the production of heart images which enable the doctor to appraise the heart performance, function, and structure. Echocardiogram provides information about heart valves issues, heart artery issues, heart pumping/relaxing function issues, fluid around heart, and blood clots in heart.
- Stress test: It is a kind of testing that provides an insight on how the heart can function when exposed to physical stress. While undergoing this test, the patient is subject to physical load with special equipment for determining the blood pressure and heart electrical signals. The doctor will see whether the blood circulation in the blood is restricted during physical stress.
- Ultrasound of carotid arteries: These arteries are located in the neck. Carotid ultrasound can identify the availability of plaques in the carotid arteries and determine whether the blood supply to the brain is limited. Based on the findings of this test, the medical specialist can prescribe the treatment targeted on the elimination of plaques and protect the patient against stroke.
- Ankle brachial index: This testing is a fast method to diagnose a peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is calculated as the ration between the blood pressure in the legs and in the arms. This index also provides the data concerning the general cardiovascular health.