While heart disease affects both men and women, there are three factors that are particularly unique to women.
Women are more likely to develop coronary microvascular disease (coronary MVD) than men. Research suggests that the low levels of estrogen that occur after menopause may be linked with coronary MVD, although the condition is often seen in combination with other heart disease risk factors like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Because the standard tests used to diagnose coronary heart disease weren’t designed to detect coronary MVD, additional research is needed to find more effective ways to accurately diagnose and treat coronary MVD.
2. Stress and Depression
Stress-induced cardiomyopathy, called broken heart syndrome, can occur as the result of a sudden surge in stress hormones. Broken heart syndrome is seen more often in women than in men, and occurs more frequently after menopause.
3. Pregnancy Complications
Women who experience high blood pressure or diabetes during their pregnancy have an increased chance of developing these conditions later in life. Because both high blood pressure and diabetes are risk factors for heart disease, women with these health concerns need to be particularly vigilant about managing their cardiovascular health.