Women and Heart Disease

Women and Heart Disease


(upbeat music) [Dr. Jennifer Lin Yeh] Cardiovascular
disease remains the number one killer of women in this country, which I think is not well
understood. It actually outranks breast
cancer as a loss of life. And after menopause, the risk
for women is equal to the risk of men of having a major
cardiovascular event. The risk factors for women
remain similar to those of men, hypertension, high cholesterol,
diabetes, certainly a family history of premature cardiovascular disease, meaning first-degree
relatives, parents, siblings, who have a cardiovascular event in their 40s, 50s, early 60s. Those folks are at increased risk. Smoking increases the risk in women just like it does in men, and stress plays a major
role in women as well. A routine follow-up with
a primary care physician after the age of 40 is
critically important for routine blood work, as well as routine blood
pressure assessment. If you do have known cardiac
risk factors of high blood pressure or
high cholesterol or diabetes, then keeping all of those
in check and making sure that your numbers and levels
are where they’re supposed to be for each of those diseases
is critically important. Routine exercise, at minimum
30 minutes on most days of the week of good moderate
paced aerobic exercise, brisk walking, is also
critically important to reduce your risk down the road. Women’s presentation with a
heart attack is different, or certainly can be
different, than that for men. They still are likely to have that typical crushing chest
pressure or tightness, but they may also experience
severe indigestion or pain across the back and shoulders. It can be profound
fatigue out of proportion to what they would expect
for what they’re doing, and it’s easy to ignore
those symptoms, because they aren’t what
is typically billed as how you present with a
heart attack. But we always encourage women
not to ignore any symptoms that they think are different than what is usual or typical
for them. And also, women as caregivers
tend to put themselves last and tend to ignore things, but we strongly encourage
seeking medical attention immediately if you develop any
of the symptoms I described. Memorial is an outstanding
cardiovascular care center. There’s a group of very
talented cardiologists that I have the good fortune
to work with. If you come here and you
report your symptoms, then they’re not going to be ignored. You’re not going to be told that
it’s stress, that it’s stomach acid,
that it’s nothing. You’re going to be treated
and taken care of.