Women's Heart Health
Killer of Women
1 in 3
women's deaths are caused by heart disease
9 out of 10
women have 1 or more risk factors for heart disease
Virginia Heart treats more women for heart disease than any other practice in the area. We can help you understand your risk factors and help you stay heart healthy.
Symptoms in Women
Because some heart disease symptoms are different in women than in men, women often do not know what to look for. By learning the heart disease symptoms, women can begin to reduce their risk. The most common heart attack symptom in women is the same as in men- chest pain, pressure or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes. Women, however, are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain such as neck, jaw, or upper back discomfort, shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, nausea or vomiting, or unusual fatigue. Speak with your cardiologist to get a full list of symtpoms.
Risk Factors in Women
There are various risk factors in women specifically that could make them higher risk for cardiovascular disease. The cardiologists at Virginia Heart are specialized in these different areas of medicine to provide our patients with the highest quality of care. The increased risk for heart disease in women can be linked to pregnancy, oncology, menopause and family history among other risk factors. Speak with your cardiologist at your next visit to discuss your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Women's Heart Team Approach
Virginia Heart is a physician led practice who sub-specialize in every area of the heart. Your physician works cohesively as a team with many other physicians within Virginia Heart and with nationally and locally recognized physicians. Virginia Heart puts a priority on quality and compassionate care for all of our patients. With this focus, your physician works as a multi-disciplinary team with oncologists, maternal fetal medicine specials, ObGyns and other specialists to provide you with the best care.
Evidence Based Women's Program
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women. While treatment for heart disease is similar for men and women, there can be subtle differences in the way heart disease is diagnosed in women. At Virginia Heart, we have specialized diagnostic choices for women. There is a customized risk assessment score that are more accurate in women compared to men.
Common Questions and Answers
How does stress, anxiety or depression play a role in heart health?
A person’s mental health plays a role in their physical health. Often, people who are stressed, feel anxious or depressed do not make the best choices for their health. When stress, anxiety or depression is present there are other physiological impacts that are happening in the body including an increase in stress hormones, higher levels of cortisol and higher glucose levels. Increased stress or anxiety can increase blood pressure and can contribute to cardiovascular symptoms such as palpitations. Taking care of your overall well-being can be just as important as taking care of your blood pressure and cholesterol.
How does menopause or a hormonal imbalance effect a woman's heart?
Women going through their monthly cycle are more likely to experience an increase in blood pressure or palpitations.
For women who are in menopause or the perimenopausal period, we often see an increase in palpitations, increase in cholesterol and blood pressure, increased weight gain and increased overall risk of heart disease.
Should women receive different diagnostic tests than men?
Although the tests are the same, we may make guided choices for women to perform a certain test that is more effective in women than in men. To help our providers make this decision, they perform a modified risk assessment on the women they treat.
How does pregnancy effect women's heart health?
If you have a heart condition, you will need special attention during pregnancy. During pregnancy, your heart pumps more blood each minute and your heart rate increases. Your heart is also under stress during labor.
There is an increased lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease in women who experienced preeclampsia during pregnancy. It is important to speak with your cardiologist on how to manage your risk and discuss a coordinated care plan around your medical history.
How is women's heart disease different than men's?
Women are more likely to present with different symptoms of heart disease or a heart attack than men. Common symptoms include chest pain, tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. Less common symptoms that are more frequently seen in women than men are throat pain, back pain, and nausea. Although the basic anatomy of a woman’s heart is the same as a man’s heart, women may be more likely to develop heart disease in their smaller blood vessels than men. Women are also more likely to develop stress induced heart disease or “Broken Heart Syndrome”.
There are unique ways to calculate a women’s heart risk. It is important to make an appointment with a cardiologist to help you assess these risks especially if you have had a connective tissue disorder like Lupus, preeclampsia while pregnant or a family history of heart disease.