Women's Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths
each year. American women are five times more likely to die of heart disease
than breast cancer.
Over the past few decades, heart attack survival rates have improved overall.
However, the signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women may be different
or less noticeable than men. Women are less likely to experience typical
chest pain during a heart attack. They are diagnosed less frequently,
are less inclined to seek prompt medical care and are therefore less likely
to survive a heart attack.
Women often experience:
- Absence of chest pain or presence of vague chest discomfort
- Jaw pain
- Back pain
- Heaviness of arms
- Epigastric burning
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling flushed
- Clammy skin
- Unusual or unexplained fatigue
- Abnormal belching
- Jaw pain
If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911! Emergency medical
personnel can begin life-saving treatment right away, even before you
get to the hospital.
Survive. Don’t Drive!
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Make these lifestyle changes:
- Schedule an annual well woman visit
- Know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar
- Know your heart risk factors
- Eat less sugar and simple carbohydrates
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Stop smoking
- Know your family history
- Work with your doctor
Blood tests for cholesterol and
C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Cardiovascular stress tests
- Coronary calcium scoring for at-risk women
Since heart symptoms in women are often vague, cardiac imaging is even
more important to help assess risk and guide therapy. Based on your history
and risk factors, your doctor will decide if you are a candidate for the
following heart tests:
Echocardiogram - a test to assess heart muscle function, heart valve function and pressures
over the heart
Stress testing - a test to determine whether you have blockages in the arteries of your heart
Ultrasound carotid - a test to assess whether you have blockages in the arteries of your neck
Holter (monitor) - a device that listens to the rhythm of your heart
Minimally Invasive Therapies
For patients with non-urgent heart symptoms who are identified at moderate
to high risk on cardiac testing, the next step is a cardiac catheterization.
For patients experiencing a heart attack, this is usually the first step.
Cardiac catheterization is a dye test which is done to assess severity
of heart artery blockages and fix them with a stent if needed.
Many heart diseases require a combination of diet, exercise, medication
Cardiac surgeons at Winchester Medical Center perform many procedures through minimally
invasive “key-hole” incisions. Older women in particular tend
to be better candidates for minimally invasive surgery.