You have probably heard many times that heart disease is something more men develop than women, this old idea has been around for quite awhile. However recent research and statistics show that while men may develop heart disease at an earlier age, women eventual catch up and have just as high a rate as the men. In fact, after the age of 65 women on average have more heart attacks than men. Let’s find out why, and get the facts.
The reason heart problems increase for women at an older age is due to the decrease in Estradiol which occurs when women are finally nearing the end of menopause, which is the occurrence of 12 months without a period. This final health risk from menopause is just one more really bad symptom to add to the rest, the difference is this one can kill you if you don’t take care of it.
The beginning of heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD for short) is usually marked by a precursor such as hypertension or high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and in some cases chest pains. As was stated earlier, the onset of menopause is the main reason, and it gets worse as Estradiol decreases with advanced age. The problem is that the coronary arteries start to become blocked by plaque which is the side effect of high cholesterol. When the arteries become blocked, blood flow decreases to the heart, and hardening of the arteries takes place as well. The more plaque buildup there is, the harder it is for blood to get pumped through the body, and eventually chest pains are the result. Approximately a million women each year develop CAD, which is a shock to hear for most of us, but true nonetheless.
As a woman, you may have slightly different symptoms of CAD than a man. Some of the typical symptoms are: chest pains, arrhythmia, back pain, fatigue, heart burn, jaw pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and sweating. The truth is that women who are treated in the emergency room for chest pains due to CAD are not treated the same as men of the same general age. Men are twice as likely as women to get a coronary arteriography which is a test for symptoms of CAD. The main reason is that most doctors still aren’t aware that women can have the rate of heart disease as men. At some point that will most likely catch up, but until then women have to be on the lookup for themselves. Be on the alert for any of the symptoms of heart disease, and make sure you get the help from doctor with any questions you have to be sure it’s taken care of immediately.