Quick Facts About Cardiovascular Disease In Women

Earl Mangin, Jr., MD
October 11, 2020
Quick Facts About Cardiovascular Disease In Women

Heart disease is the biggest killer of women in the US by far
– Roughly 401,000 deaths/year from all causes of cardiovascular disease
– Roughly 176,000 deaths per year from coronary artery disease
– Vs 39,520 deaths per year from breast cancer
– CVD and CAD disproportionately affect African American and Latin women
– CVD kills more women than the next 7 causes of death combined
– CVD kills one of every 2.5 women (breast cancer kills 1 in 30 women)

Women are roughly 10 years older than men when they typically present and have more co-morbidities
– Women have more atypical symptoms and are more likely to wait before seeking medical attention
– Women with heart attacks are more likely to have complications and a higher in-hospital mortality than men (14.6% vs 10.3%)

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women
– Chest pain, discomfort, tightness (in a recent study, 43% of women had NO chest pain)
– Unusual upper body discomfort
– Shortness of breath (42% had this symptom)
– Breaking out in a cold sweat
– Unusual or unexplained fatigue (71% had this symptom)
– Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
– Nausea

Sudden cardiac death
– Occurs more often in men
– However, women have no prior symptoms more often than men (63% vs 44%)

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease
– Menopause
– Age > 55
– Family history of premature coronary disease (male age < 55, female age < 65)
– Diabetes – doubles the risk of fatal coronary artery disease
– Smoking – associated with 50% of all coronary events in women with a 6-fold increase risk of heart attack in women vs. 3% for men
– Hypertension
– Peripheral arterial disease
– Hypercholesterolemia – low HDL is more predictive than high LDL
– Hypertryglyceridemia – more predictive in older women especially if > 400mg/dl
– Obesity
– Metabolic syndrome
– Collagen vascular disease
– Chronic kidney disease
– Prior pregnancy
– History of X ray therapy for cancer
– Depression and/or stress

Multiple risk factors further increases your risk
– 1 risk factor doubles your risk
– 2 risk factors quadruples your risk
– 3 or more increase the risk 10-fold

Diagnosing cardiovascular disease
– Stress testing – better with echo or nuclear imaging
– CT calcium score
– Coronary CTA
– Cardiac catheterization

Treatment and prevention
– Aerobic exercise at least 1 hour, 3-4 times per week
– Quit smoking
– Healthy diet – low fat, low cholesterol
– Keep BMI < 25 and waist circumference < 35 in.
– Treat risk factors: HTN, DM, HLD
– Aspirin for those with 2 or more risk factors
– Treat depression
– Increased awareness of atypical symptoms in women

In summary, only 55% of women recognize that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Breast cancer, which is mainly considered a woman’s disease, is not even close statistically. Awareness, life style modification, and treatment of risk factors is very important. Seek out medical guidance if you don’t quite feel right!

Earl Mangin, Jr., MD

Earl Mangin, Jr., MD

Dr. Earl Mangin is a cardiologist in Houston, Texas. He received his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and has been in practice for more than 20 years. His clinical interests include transcardial catheterization, echocardiogram, cardiac Imaging, angioplasty, arrhythmias, cardiac valve disease, heart failure, catheter based cardiac/aortic Disease, heart catheterization, and peripheral arterial disease.

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