Mammograms Save Lives

Women and Heart Disease

A woman experiencing the signs and symptoms of heart disease.

Heart disease kills more people a year than cancer. While many are at risk, most are not aware of it. If you are a woman between 45-65, you are at an increased risk of developing some form of this disease, including having a heart attack.

If you would like to know more about the role heart disease plays in women’s health and its symptoms, our experts at Maiden Lane Medical can assist you. We provide our patients with the highest quality of cardiac care, from diagnosis to treatment. Schedule an appointment at our conveniently located office in Manhattan, NY today!

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, refers to a variety of heart conditions that can affect your heart and blood vessels. These heart conditions can include the following:

  • Coronary heart disease/coronary artery disease
  • Coronary microvascular disease
  • Hypertensive heart disease
  • Hypertensive vascular disease
  • Renovascular disease
  • Heart attacks

While it is sometimes thought of as a man’s disease, it also has a major impact on women’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “almost as many women as men die each year of heart disease in the United States.” In 2020 alone, 1 in every 5 female deaths in the United States was caused by heart disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women

There are many signs and symptoms that can be an indication of heart disease in women, including:

  • Chest pain
  • Pain in your jaw, neck, abdomen, or upper back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • A sudden cold, clammy feeling or sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

Some women do not have any chest pain or symptoms before they have a medical emergency, such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Additionally, heart disease and heart attack symptoms tend to be more subtle in women than in men.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Risk factors of heart disease include the following:

  • HypertensionAlso known as high blood pressure. This occurs when the force of your blood pushing against your artery walls is consistently high. This makes your heart work harder to pump blood.
  • Hyperlipidemia — Also known as high cholesterol. Estrogen helps raise the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in your body. During menopause, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides increase, elevating your risk.
  • Sex
  • Diabetes mellitus — Women who have diabetes tend to be at higher risk of developing heart disease.
  • Age
  • Genetics/Family history
  • Lifestyle
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Smoking — Directly increases your chances of heart attack and stroke. There are new drugs available to assist you. Alternative methods that can help you quit include:
    • Acupuncture
    • Hypnosis
    • Increased exercise
    • Psychotherapy

These options are regularly discussed with new patients who smoke. We attempt to provide referrals to qualified professionals in these alternative fields to offer further assistance.

How Can Heart Disease Be Prevented in Women?

There are some proactive measures that can be taken to lower your risk and prevent you from developing heart disease, including:

  • Regularly having your blood pressure checked.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes.
  • Have a healthy diet.
  • Limiting your alcohol intake.
  • Finding healthy ways to manage your stress level

How Is Heart Disease In Women Diagnosed?

To diagnose heart disease accurately, your doctor will first ask about your symptoms, lifestyle, and personal and family medical history.

Your doctor may also order the following test:

  • Blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test, etc.

Heart Disease Treatment

A woman visiting Maiden Lane Medical for a heart checkup. Your treatment will depend on the specific type of heart condition that you have and may include the following medications:

  • Aspirin
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Beta-blockers and more

Treatment may also include:

  • A cardiac stent 
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention 
  • Coronary bypass surgery

Outlook

Your prognosis will depend on your individual situation and medical history. However, by adhering to the treatment provided by your doctor and making lifestyle changes, your heart condition may be stabilized, and you may even live longer.

If you suspect you have a heart condition or just want to ensure your heart is healthy, schedule an appointment at Maiden Lane Medical, located in Manhattan, NY. Your heart will be in good hands with us!

Medically Reviewed By

Karrin Genovese, MD
Board Certified Family Medicine