Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States. It is estimated that one in four women die from heart disease every year. Women are at a higher risk for heart disease than men because of a lack of knowledge and information. Women often feel the need to care for others before themselves and neglect their own health needs. As mothers, and sisters, and daughters it is important to protect our health for those that depend on us. Heart disease is preventable through knowledge and awareness and taking precautionary steps.
The risk for women developing heart disease involves contributing factors that can be associated with age, weight, and diet. After menopause women are more likely to develop heart conditions that can lead to heart disease. The loss of natural estrogen after menopause can increase the risk because of along with the changes in the walls of the blood vessels. The LDL cholesterol levels increase and the HDL levels, also known as the “good” levels, decrease making it more likely for plaque to build and blood clots to form. It was previously recommended that women try hormone replacement therapy to decrease the risk of heart disease, but recent studies have shown this has done more harm than good. There is little evidence that hormone replacement does anything to prevent heart disease. Doctors recommend eating more fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight while routinely exercising at least thirty minutes three times per week.
African American and Hispanic American women are at an increased risk for developing heart disease. Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are among the risk factors to be aware of. Heart disease kills nearly 50,000 African American women every year. Statistics show that 49% of African American women over the age of twenty have heart disease. Only half of African American women are aware of the signs related to heart disease and the symptoms of having a heart attack. Statistics show only one in five African American women are even aware they are at risk.
The most common type of heart disease is called coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease develops when the arteries narrow and become hard. The heart cannot receive all the blood it needs through the stiff narrow arteries. Symptoms include pressure and chest pain or squeezing in the chest which is also known as angina. Angina should be understood as a warning sign and that the sufferer is at an increased risk of a heart attack. When blood is blocked from getting to the heart for more than twenty minutes the result is a heart attack. The symptoms of a heart attack can be less dramatic than what television portrays. The Clutching of the chest and falling to the floor is not what women should expect. The common signs for women to look for are heartburn, loss of appetite, feeling tired or weak, shortness of breath, nausea, and pain in the back, neck or jaw. Women should not hesitate to call for help should they...