In the past, cardiovascular disease (or CVD) was thought of as a man’s disease, being responsible for one of every four male deaths in the United States. These numbers are certainly troubling, but women also need to be aware of many heart issues that can impact their own health.
1. CVD Doesn’t Discriminate
Women are just as prone to heart disease-related deaths as men. Like men, one in four women will die from a heart disease-related condition, making CVD the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.
2. Rates Are Decreasing Slowly
The good news is that thanks to technological advancements, better medicines and more comprehensive education, heart disease rates are dropping. The bad news is that they’re dropping more slowly for women than for men. The lack of improvement is especially true in younger women. Women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to die of a heart attack than men. While the exact causes of this gender gap are not known, researchers believe that this relates to heart conditions that more commonly appear in women, such as Coronary Microvascular Disease, or MVD.
Coronary Microvascular Disease occurs when tiny arteries in the body become damaged. This prevents them from transferring blood effectively. Women are more likely to have MVD than men, though doctors are still unsure why. MVD causes angina (chest pain) and other typical heart-related symptoms, but it is hard to detect on traditional testing.
4. Breaking Your Heart
Broken Heart Syndrome is another type of CVD that affects more women than men and may explain some of the gender gap. This condition is brought on by sudden and severe periods of stress that disrupt normal heart function. This disease appears similar to a heart attack, though there are no blocked arteries. It can cause heart failure and requires prompt treatment. Fortunately, survivors often recover with normal heart function.