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Cardiopathy is not Just a Man's Disease

Mistakenly considered a man's illness, heart disease is the number one killer of women. This might seem a stark and dramatic introduction to the subject of women and heart disease but this disease is so serious and yet so misunderstood by women that perhaps drama is necessary to bring attention to this deadly killer. How common is heart disease in women?  In fact, heart disease kills almost as many women as it does men. One in four women who die will die of heart disease. One in nine women between the age of 45 and 64 has some kind of cardiovascular disease. One in three women over the age of 65 has some kind of cardiovascular disease. This disease deserves our attention. It needs to have yours.

How Common is Heart Disease in Women?

All women need to be aware of the risk factors of heart disease and how common heart disease is in women. If you are aware of them you can then take steps to alleviate them if you have any control over them. There are some risk factors that you can't do much about other than be aware of them. For instance, the older a women gets, the better her chances of getting heart disease. Women of color and Hispanic women have an even greater risk of heart disease than Caucasian women.

If your family has a history of cardiovascular disease you have a greater risk of heart disease. These are the risk issues that you have no control over aside from being aware and taking precautions. There are risk factors that you can control though. If you are overweight, smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or drink too much you might be putting yourself at risk for heart disease.

So what exactly are the symptoms of heart disease in woman?  Surprisingly for many women it is not the crushing chest pain that men feel. Women can feel that too at times but for many women the symptoms of a heart attack are subtle. Unfortunately these symptoms are easy to ignore which is why they can prove deadly.

For women with heart disease symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath,
  • feeling incredibly tired and fatigued,
  • coughing with no reason that you can pin point,
  • loss of appetite,
  • heartburn, or perhaps
  • heart flutters.

All of these can be blamed on something else and often that is exactly what today's "I can handle anything" woman does. We tend to disregard symptoms that don't cause us extreme discomfort and many of the above symptoms are annoying but not excruciating and we allow ourselves to forget about them or put them on the back burner.

There are some risk factors that will accentuate the chances of heart disease and heart attack even more. Stress is one of the biggest contributors. Constant stress can triple your chances of heart disease and heart attack. Depression is similar. It also can double or triple your risk for the disease. Of course high cholesterol is a tremendous driver for increased risk of heart disease.

It is not all bleak though. There are some things that you can do to lessen your chances for heart disease. For one, you can get a regular physical every year during which you should have an EKG, blood work to test your cholesterol and other levels, your blood pressure checked and if needed a stress test to make sure you are doing well. You can also make lifestyle changes to address some of the risk factors. Exercise, healthy diet low in fat, no smoking or drinking and maintaining a healthy weight are also very helpful in reducing your risk for heart disease.

Heart disease is a serious health epidemic for men and women. It is important to stay on top of it instead of letting it creep up on you. Stay aware of the symptoms of heart disease in women. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, get regular checkups and try to reduce your stress and you will have done the three best preventative measures that you have available to you.

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