Women and Heart Disease

MUNCIE, Ind. – Dr. Maleeha Khalid, M.D. OB/GYN at Meridian’s Women’s Health in Muncie offers insight on women and heart disease.

When you think of health issues women face, you may first think of breast cancer or some other female-related disease. But heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

One in five women will die of heart disease, more than all the cancers combined. February is American Heart Month and a good time to be reminded that no one is immune – even those who believe they eat and exercise right. Here are some great resources to learn more about how to take care of your heart.

A little more than half of women know just how serious heart disease is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease is a very real health concern, especially for women of all ages.

Though heart disease also strikes men, women experience unique causes, symptoms and outcomes. What’s more, certain conditions may increase your risk for heart disease.

Many women may be unaware of their potential risk for heart disease and even the unique signs they could experience.

Some facts to keep in mind:

  • Women worry less about heart disease than cancer, even though nearly twice as many women die from heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. One in 16 women 20 and older have coronary heart disease.
  • Most of us think extreme chest pain is the sign of a heart attack. But women may experience symptoms like fatigue, back and jaw pain, dizziness, passing out, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting and difficulty sleeping. Women are more likely to dismiss their symptoms or assume the cause is related to something else, such as the flu and general fatigue.
  • Health factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and obesity contribute to heart disease and 90 percent of all women have at least one of these risk factors. A family history of cardiovascular disease also can put you at greater risk.
  • Experts recommend starting to screen for heart disease at age 20. Afterall, we now know heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults. Risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure among young and middle-aged women puts them at risk for heart disease earlierin life – especially those ages 35 to 64. And studies have shown women ages 45 and younger are more likely to die within a year of their first heart attack.

As individuals, it’s important to take responsibility for our own heart health. Ask your physician specifically about cardiovascular disease at your next physical exam. At Meridian, we have a specific division focusing on women’s health. We believe the best health is whole-person health. It is a unique continuum of care that provides behavioral, mental and physical health in a single location.