A Woman Heart Health

Women and Heart Disease

Far too many women don't worry as much about heart disease as they should, the thought of breast cancer very often concerns them more, but heart disease claims many female lives as well. On average, women develop heart problems later in life than do men. Many women by middle age have cardiovascular disease and as they age the risks climb greatly.

Most of the major risk factors that set the stage for this disease are, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and inactivity are the same for women and men. However, it is not unusual for two of these risk factors to affect women differently than men.  Despite the similar risks, women have one big advantage over men; estrogen. The female hormore estrogen appears to offer protection against coronary artery disease. Part of that protection seems to come from the fact that estrogen helps raise the level of good cholesterol, and at the same time also helps to lower the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL)-the bad cholestrol.

The problem is after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, that protection is gradually lost. After the age of about 65, a women's risk for heart attack becomes almost equal to a man's. Estrogen replacement therapy may be the way to recapture that protection, but risks do exist. Like endometrial and breast cancer. Yet some studies find benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health and protection from osteoporosis.

It is unclear why, but women seem less likely to survive heart attacks than men. In addition women don't respond to some major procedures like coronary angioplasty as well as men do. Maybe, because heart attacks occur in women at a later age, they are less likely to survive an initial attack or tolerate procedures such as angioplasty or surgery.

Detecting cardiovascular disease in women can be difficult because the symptoms are not always the typical symtoms of angina. If you have chest pains or shortness of breath on exertion, see your doctor. Even though a harmless muscle spasm can cause chest pain, the pain could also be angina pectoris, (a waring sign of coronary artery disease).

Rather than waiting for warning signs, think about what you can do now to delay this disease.

#1..Don't smoke. Smoking eliminates the natural biological protection you might obtain frim the hormore estrogen. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk of heart disease.

#2..Eat foods that are low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Limit fat to about 30% of your daily calories by balancing occational high-fat foods with low-fat choices, such as fruit, vegetables and grains.

#3..Control your blood pressure and blood cholestrol levels. Small elevations in blood pressure can double your risk.

#4..Exercise. Choose aerobic activity such as walking, swimming, and bicycling. Strat slowly and gradually work up to exercising about 30 to 45 minutes at least 3 times a week.

#5...If you are overweight, lose weight. Excess weight, by itself, is a potent risk factor for coronary artery disease. The more overweight you are, the higher your risk. Ask your doctor to help you decide the weight that is best for you.