Women's heart health
Women are born multi-taskers. Whether it’s work, your kids, your partner or your parents—women are often at the center of it all. Making life happen.
Women are also more likely to ignore the symptoms commonly associated with heart disease. In the U.S., more women die from heart disease than any other cause, including cancer. And, more women than men die each year from heart disease. Dignity Health Medical Foundation’s team of female cardiologists work with you to treat and prevent heart disease, by addressing specific concerns and warning signs.
The warning signs of heart disease in women
Typical warning signs of heart disease include pressure or squeezing in your chest, soreness in one or both arms, or shortness of breath. Along with these symptoms, women may also experience:
Neck, jaw, shoulder or upper back pain
Shortness of breath
Abdominal pain or heartburn
Sweating and dizziness
Am I at risk of heart disease?
Understanding the unique risks and warning signs of heart disease in women help you to recognize the signs before an emergency. Eliminating key risks from your daily routine, healthy eating and exercise also help to reduce your risk.
Known risk factors for heart disease include age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking history, diabetes and family history of heart disease. However, there are other factors unique to women:
Women who have high job stress have a 40 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and an 88 percent increase in heart attack risk.
Conditions involving chronic inflammation such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis nearly double a woman's risk for heart disease.
Pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides. This has a greater impact on women than on men.
Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than in men.
Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels.
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How you can reduce your risk.
There are things you can do every day to reduce your risk for heart disease. Dignity Health Medical Foundation’s female cardiologists work with you and your primary care team to help identify key lifestyle changes that make a big difference.
Small choices can make a big difference in your heart health. Working with your physicians to come up with a plan for preventative health care may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eating right. Our physicians and cardiologists will work with you to form healthy eating habits that include the right foods to improve and maintain your health.
Maintaining a healthy weight. Our cardiologists will work with you to find out what weight is right for you. If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds can help relieve stress on your heart and lower your blood pressure.
Reducing stress. Stress is a normal part of everyone's life. It is not the stress that increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, but how you cope with it.
Regular exercise. People who have had heart attacks may increase their chances of survival if they change their habits to include regular physical activity. Exercise can help control blood fats and blood glucose, maintain weight and lower blood pressure.
Heart disease: preventive tips for women
There are lifestyle changes you can make today that can improve your health and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Talk to your doctor about your risk for heart disease.
Don't smoke. Tobacco use lowers your level of good cholesterol, raises your blood pressure and promotes clotting.
Control your cholesterol. Most heart disease is the result of cholesterol-rich, fatty buildup that narrows the vessels that supply blood to your heart. There are two sources of cholesterol: your body, which makes cholesterol to aid digestion, and the foods you eat.
Know your LDL. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) also known as bad cholesterol, accounts for most of the cholesterol in your blood and is considered most responsible for the formation of plaque.
Control high blood pressure. High blood pressure damages arteries, setting the stage for plaque formation. It also increases the stress on the heart muscle, which may cause damage to the organ.
Exercise regularly. Exercise can help control blood fats and blood glucose, maintain weight and lower blood pressure.
Manage stress. Stress is a normal part of everyone's life. It is not the stress that increases your risk for CAD but how you cope with it.
Control your weight. By itself, obesity increases your risk for heart disease. Obesity also contributes to other risk factors, including hypertension, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.
Tips from our female cardiovascular experts
Cardiovascular clinics in California
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