We are finding more and more research surrounding the marked differences in cardiovascular disease between men and women. This disparity may be surprising dependent not only on risk factors that we may know of (smoking, high blood pressure, obesity), but also on just the fact of being a woman.
Fact #1: Women are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease then men.
Fact #2: Women are twice as likely to die of heart disease as from all forms of cancer combined (including breast cancer).
Fact #3: It may be rare for young women to experience a heart attack, but 23% of the women who have a myocardial infarction in their 40’s will die within 1 year.
Fact #4: Women younger than 50 who smoke have a higher risk for their first heart attack than do men of the same age.
Fact #5: Nearly half of all women are unaware that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women.
Fact #6: Lifestyle has been shown to have an even greater impact on risk of coronary heart disease than genetics. This is why it is no longer purely a disease of the elderly since the obesity epidemic in young children has risen exponentially.
Fact #7: Women who begin hormone therapy as they enter menopause (within 5 years) may gain some cardiovascular benefit. This is not true for older women or those with existing heart disease.
Fact #8: Heart disease is significantly higher for hispanic women than for hispanic men.
Fact #9: Several screening tests to diagnose coronary artery disease in women are more likely than men to experience false positive results.
Fact #10: The cause of heart attack in women is due to endothelial dysfunction which is when the lining of blood vessels are stiffer and have an inability to dilate and causes inflammation. Whereas men tend to have a blockage in the coronary arteries.
Reference: Johnson, H., Seibert, D. “Dispelling the Myths of Heart Disease for Women”. The Journal for nurse Practitioners-JNP, Vol. 7, Issue 5, may 2011.