More women than men have died from heart disease every year since 1984. Yet only one woman in five believes it to be her greatest health threat.
So why do women continue to overlook heart disease? “In the past, all the research was done on older men,” says BMH cardiologist Stuart Smalheiser, M.D. “But it’s not just a man’s disease; more women die of heart disease than anything else.”
While women typically are faster to visit a doctor than men if they have an ailment, data shows they are slower to seek medical attention when they experience heart attack symptoms. “They arrive at the ER later in the process than men,” Smalheiser says. “It could be that they don’t pick up the warning signs when they have an event because they have more atypical symptoms.”
Rather than severe chest pain, women are more likely to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath and nausea. On the plus side, women are more aggressive about preventive care. “Whether you’re a man or a woman, you have to do the same things to reduce your risk of heart disease,” Smalheiser says. “That includes controlling your diet, exercising, reducing stress and working on risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Once you have heart disease, those lifestyle changes are even more important to prevent a recurrent event.”
Vascular disease causes almost as much disability and death as heart disease. Want to know if you’re at risk? Beaufort Memorial LifeFit Wellness Services offers a $60 cardiovascular screening package that will check for blocked or narrowed arteries. To schedule a screening, call 843-522-5635.
Here are a few more heart disease statistics for you to consider:
Infographic courtesy of Summer 2015 issue of Living Well