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Heart Health in Women

Heart disease remains, by far, the number one killer of women, and it also causes vast amounts of disability and loss of quality of life among them.  Cardiovascular conditions kill many times more women than breast cancer and other diseases that are often more closely associated with women's health.  And yet, many women are not aware of the risks that heart disease poses, may even still regard it as a man's disease (though more women die of heart attacks each year than men), and may not be well informed generally about heart function, heart health, and cardiac care.

Women and heart disease is an important topic.  For example, compared with men, women are:

  • more likely to die within the first year after a heart attack;
  • more likely to experience another heart attack or be disabled with heart failure within six years of a first
    heart attack;
  • and less likely to receive the proper and needed drug therapy –– as well interventional or
    surgical care –– for a heart condition.

Women are also under-represented in heart-related research studies. These and many other heart-health facts have been the subject of national awareness campaigns aimed at women.  That's because women often fail to take seriously enough their own risk of heart disease and the connection between their personal heart health and certain variables that they may already understand, such as their blood pressure or cholesterol levels.  Surveys show that most women, in fact, do not even know their test results in these areas.  Furthermore, women may be less likely to have warning signs prior to a heart attack, and they and their doctors often fail to recognize these signs.

Good quality prevention and care for cardiovascular disease is much the same for men and women, and yet knowledge is increasing about certain differences in women's hearts and their vulnerabilities.  Experts believe that in women, for example, the cardiac affects of such risk factors as alcohol use, triglyceride levels, response to stress, and other factors are different than in men.  In addition, age (in particular, whether a woman is pre- or postmenopause) is an especially important aspect of a woman's risk assessment for heart problems.  Of course,
use of hormone therapy in women also has heart-health implications.   

Helping patients find their particular risks
Furthermore, women need to know about the affects on heart health of such lifestyle factors as weight, and be familiar with how to establish such objectives as target heart rate.  A healthier lifestyle can decrease a women's chance of developing heart disease.

Aria's staff can help identify risk factors that a woman might have for heart disease and make appropriate referrals for a full screening for heart conditions, for recommendations on steps to take to safeguard heart health, and for treatment for existing conditions.  The Heart Center gives its patients access to the complete range of cardiovascular testing, drug treatment, minimally invasive interventional care, surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation. 

Looking for trouble signs and heading them off
Symptoms that signal a heart condition in a woman can look somewhat different than those in men.  For example, chronic fatigue can be an important warning sign in female patients.  In addition, the combination of echocardiography and various types of stress testing is especially important in evaluating women for possible heart conditions.

The Heart Center staff can help identify and treat conditions as stable and unstable angina, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart murmur, and heart failure.  Aria cardiac specialists can provide you with any diagnostics or cardiology consultations you may need and can help you in making decisions about lifestyle interventions and cardiovascular treatments.

There are many ways to work toward improving you heart health, even if you already suffer from a heart condition.  Aria's Heart Center staff can provide patients with precise assessment and can assist in long-term management of heart health, preventive steps, or interventions or care regimen, as part of overall care.