Every year, heart disease kills almost 300,000 women in the United States, which means that one out of three female deaths occurs because of some type of heart problem — making it more deadly than all types of cancers combined. Even though those stats are sobering, it’s even more shocking to hear that one in 16 women as young as 20 years old have some form of heart disease.
We think those numbers are too high.
At Premier Family Physicians in Bastrop, Texas, Dr. Pompeyo Chavez and our team believe that every woman should understand the seriousness of heart disease, but only about half of women know that heart disease is a major cause of death, and even fewer think of heart disease as a personal health risk. That’s why we’re passionate about helping every woman in our care prevent this deadly condition.
A closer look at heart disease
Also called cardiovascular disease, heart disease is an umbrella term that covers a group of conditions that affect your heart, including:
- Coronary artery disease: a buildup of plaque in the arteries
- Arrhythmia: an abnormal heart rhythm
- Atherosclerosis: hardened arteries
- Cardiomyopathy: hardened heart muscles
- Congenital heart defects: heart irregularities from birth
- Heart infection: caused by bacteria or viruses
- Heart failure: when your blood doesn’t pump blood efficiently
- Heart valve disease: dysfunction of your heart’s valves
- Pericardial disease: inflammation of the sac that surrounds your heart
Heart disease can narrow or block blood vessels or impair the heart muscle, valves, or rhythm. When any of these conditions occur, you can experience chest pain, stroke, or a heart attack.
Heart disease and women
Men also face heart disease, but women experience the symptoms a little differently. Here, we take a closer look at the unique heart disease symptoms in women, the risk factors that apply, and how we help you take steps to prevent heart problems.
When experiencing a heart attack, for example, both men and women often report the classic symptom of chest pain, many women don’t feel any chest pain at all, which may contribute to their higher death rate from heart attacks.
Women are also more likely to also have other symptoms as well, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain.
Men and women share some heart disease risk factors, such as poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight, but women also have added risk factors, including menopause symptoms, polycystic ovary syndrome, and certain pregnancy complications, which are unique to women and can increase your risk for heart disease. Other risk factors to watch for include:
- Family history
Knowing your risk factors gives us valuable information so that we can develop a preventive care plan that just may save your life.
How to prevent heart disease
The first step in preventing heart disease is assessing your risk factors and mitigating all of those within your control. This means quitting smoking if you're a smoker, limiting alcohol to one drink a day, getting plenty of exercise, and eating a nutritious diet.
If you’re overweight or obese, it’s important to work toward a healthy weight, and we can help. Our medically supervised weight loss program is custom designed to suit your individual diet, activity, and health needs. We offer nutritional counseling and emotional and mental support throughout your journey to optimize your health as you lose weight.
But excess weight isn’t the only risk factor for heart disease. It’s also important to monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol because they’re often asymptomatic.
To schedule a heart health screening, call our friendly staff or book online. We’re here to protect your heart and overall health now and for years to come.