Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women across the world. Differences in age, important risk factors, and symptoms are often reasons women are approached differently and treated less aggressively.
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“Women generally present with cardiovascular disease about ten years later than men, and have more comorbidities,” says McFarland Clinic Cardiologist Stuart Christenson, MD. “Risk factors such as age, smoking and abnormal cholesterol seem to be particularly important in women.”
Established cardiac risk factors for women include:
Most people associate heart attacks with symptoms such as chest pain, which is common for men. Women tend to describe symptoms such as sharp or burning pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and radiation to the back or jaw.
Preventing heart disease can be done through healthy living and managing other illnesses.
Prevention of heart disease through healthy living includes:
“Medication can be use to help treat comorbidities such as abnormal cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Dr. Christenson. “Oral contraceptives should be avoided in people who smoke.”
A low-dose aspirin may be recommended for women older than age 65.