Functional Medicine & Wellness

Heart Disease: The Truth About How It Impacts Women

Heart disease encompasses a range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. These conditions include coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure, and arrhythmias, among others. Heart disease is often associated with men, but the reality is that it’s a leading cause of death among women worldwide. This is just one of many common misconceptions surrounding this all too common health issue. Here are some other myths you may have heard:

  • Younger women are not at significant risk of heart disease.
  • Women who maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle don’t need to worry about heart disease.
  • Chest pain is the only symptom of heart disease in women.
  • Heart disease is more of a lifestyle issue as opposed to a result of genetic predispositions.

This just goes to show there remains a significant gap in awareness, diagnosis, and treatment when it comes to heart disease in women. This is despite the fact that according to The American Heart Association, heart disease is the cause of 1 in every 3 female deaths. Shockingly, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined! These facts make it apparent that the healthcare system (and general population) needs to do a better job of  understanding the unique risk factors and symptoms of this silent killer to allow for early detection and prevention.

Unique Risk Factors for Women

While men and women share many common causes for heart-related issues — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking — women also face unique risk factors that can increase their likelihood of developing heart problems. These factors include:

Hormonal Changes: Estrogen, which offers some protection against heart disease, decreases during menopause, putting women at higher risk as they age.

Pregnancy Complications: Conditions like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of heart disease later in life.

Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis that are more common in women can increase risk for heart health issues.

Mental Health: Depression, stress, and anxiety can contribute to heart disease risk, and women are more likely to experience these conditions than men.

Recognizing Women’s Heart Disease Symptoms

Symptoms can manifest differently in women compared to men. While chest pain is a common symptom for both genders, women are more likely to experience subtler symptoms or ones that are not typically associated with heart issues. These may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or upper back

These symptoms can be vague and easily dismissed, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. It’s essential for women to pay attention to their bodies, advocate for their health, and seek medical attention if they experience any unusual or persistent symptoms.

Prevention and Lifestyle Changes

Although it is not a foolproof solution, preventing heart disease begins with adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet, exercising on a regular basis, managing stress, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. 

Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are also crucial for monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk factors. Additionally, having a comprehensive understanding of your family history of heart disease can help identify the most effective prevention efforts.

Heart disease is a significant health threat for women, but with awareness, education, and proactive lifestyle changes, it’s possible to reduce the risk and improve heart health. Don’t let your concerns or discomforts be dismissed. 

Take control of your overall well being by having the experienced and trustworthy Omnia Health Functional Medicine team on your side. It starts with scheduling your FREE Consultation.




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