Womens Health

Heart Disease Awareness

Heart foundations all over the world are kicking off a campaign called "Go Red for Women" in which they will be presenting activities designed to raise women's consciousness of heart disease. The foundations hope to destroy the myth that heart disease is something that only affects men. The idea is to send a message to women everywhere that they are at risk for heart disease. They want to educate women about the risk factors, symptoms and signs of heart disease.

Common Signs

Some of the most common signs of heart disease in women include the following:

*Intermittent chest pain, discomfort or pressure that waxes and wanes

*Pain that occurs in specific areas for instance the back, stomach, jaw, shoulder, or arm

*Shortness of breath without pain

*A feeling of nausea



While it's true that a woman's risk for cardiovascular disease prior to menopause is not as high as a man's, that risk increases greatly after menopause. However, the rate of heart disease in women before menopause is rising all the time. Risk factors for heart disease in women include:

*Age—as you age, your risk for heart disease increases. Women after menopause have a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease because their levels of estrogen fall. This female hormone provides women with natural protection against heart disease.

*Family history—if your parents had early cardiovascular disease, this makes you a more likely candidate for developing heart disease at a young age, too.

Past History

*Prior history of heart disease or stroke—this suggests the likelihood for future events, as well.

*Women who smoke—have a higher risk of developing heart disease than do men who smoke. Women who smoke have a risk for heart attack that is 2-4 times higher than that of men.

*Inactivity—women who lead sedentary lives and refrain from regular exercise double their risk for heart disease. Exercise is known to help control high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and blood cholesterol, all known factors for developing heart disease.

Strokes, Too

*Diabetes—diabetes raises your risk for both strokes and heart attacks. A woman with diabetes has double the risk for heart attack than a woman who doesn't have diabetes.

*Cholesterol—high levels of total cholesterol, low levels of HDL (the good kind), and elevated levels of triglycerides are all signs of an impending heart attack. The ratio of good to bad cholesterol (HDL/LDL) is considered a very important factor in calculating a woman's risk for heart disease.

*Hypertension—high blood pressure makes the possibility of stroke more likely.

Increased Strain

*Obesity—being overweight, especially in the midsection and at the waist, means there is increased strain on the heart and this can raise both cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

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