Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women, but it is largely preventable if women are aware of the dangers they are at risk and start acting in time to avoid heart attacks and strokes.
The problem is that traditional risk calculators can miss the big picture when it comes to women’s bodies and heart disease, especially for women from diverse backgrounds.
one doctor survey Only 22% of primary care physicians and 42% of cardiologists feel “ready” to assess heart disease risk in women.
Therefore, doctors and nurses are new to scientific statement From the American Heart Association, published this week in the journal Circulation.
They insist on including risk factors specific to women, such as pregnancy complications and the type of contraception used. racial and ethnic differences; and non-biological factors such as where patients live and what schedules they work when assessing risk for women.
Jennifer Mieles, Ph.D., co-author of the statement and professor of cardiology at Hofstra-Northwell’s Zucker College of Medicine, said in the early 2000s doctors realized more women were dying than men. There has been a focus on sexual and gender aspects of heart disease. at Hempstead, New York.
“This study, which focuses on cardiovascular health in women, has reduced female mortality over the past five to six years. ,” Mieres told TODAY.com.
“So we had to issue a call to action to say we need to raise awareness … but it’s definitely tailored to women, especially women of color. The approach didn’t work.”
Approximately 80% of heart disease is preventable, according to American Heart Association.
Traditional risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, and obesity.
While this is a starting point, the statement asks for consideration of other factors, including:
risk factors for heart disease in women
Complications such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and miscarriage put women at risk for heart disease 5 to 15 years after giving birth. Endothelial — A layer of cells that lines all blood vessels, says Mieres. “Pregnancy is a kind of stress test for the heart,” she adds.
menstrual cycle history
For example, the patient’s age when menstruation began or age at menopause. “What we’ve found is this is why women aren’t petite men: fluctuations in estrogen and hormone levels affect vascular supply,” he says Mieres. “The part of the menstrual cycle is not fully understood, but we do know that it has something to do with hormonal changes and their effects on the vascular system.”
Previous research has found that the age at which a woman gets her first period can influence her risk of heart attack.
Type of birth control or hormone replacement therapy used
This also affects hormone levels. “We are still in the early stages in terms of understanding the unique effects of hormone therapy and pregnancy in relation to female risk, and the effects of hormones on the vascular system,” he explains Mieres.
Prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy
These treatments can damage the lining of blood vessels, accelerating the process of atherosclerosis, says Mieres. It occurs by accumulating along According to the Mayo Clinic.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS “Detrimental effects” on women’s cardiovascular risk profiles, the authors wrote.
Autoimmune diseases are more common in women than men, and patients tend to have accelerated hardening of the arteries and an increased risk of heart disease, the statement said.
Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Depression and PTSD are more common in women, putting them at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Women’s risk of heart disease varies by race and ethnicity
For example, black women have a higher incidence of hypertension, which is usually undiagnosed, says Mieres. “Part of it may be related to genetic predisposition,” she adds.
Latino women have higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, but heart disease mortality is 15 to 20 percent lower than white women, the statement said.
South Asian women low HDL“This is usually the good cholesterol,” points out Mieres.
Social determinants of health
These factors may include the safety of the area where the woman lives, the availability of health care and heart-healthy food, and her economic stability and level of education, the statement said. .
Health professionals need to understand the nuances, but women also need to see their interactions with doctors as a partnership, says Mieres.
“I always tell my patients, ‘Pretend you’re going to the accountant when you pay your taxes. Bring me the information,'” she says. “You need to share information with me about what is happening to you.”
Mieres hopes that in the next five years, sex and sex differences in heart disease will become part of medical school curricula, with the next survey showing that 100% of physicians were “ready to measure women’s heart disease risk.” I can see that you feel that you are done. she says