Women’s heart health is moving to the forefront recently. Over three hundred thousand women die of coronary heart disease each year, and it is the number one killer of American women, and it affects almost nine million American women. As many as one in four women over sixty five years of age are affected by it. Nearly a half million women suffer heart attacks yearly.
Coronary heart disease affects the blood vessels of the heart and causes heart attacks. When an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart, a woman is having a heart attack. Strokes result from a lack of blood to the brain and can cause bleeding in the brain. Today heart health has become as much of women’s health issue as it is for men.
Basically there are three major risk factors for cardiovascular disease that women can control in order to reduce their risks for developing these diseases. The risk factors include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, being overweight, physical inactivity and high blood cholesterol. Some factors that put the health of the heart at risk cannot be controlled. Some women’s ethnic groups can put them at higher risk for developing heart disease than others.
Older women have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular diseases than younger women. This is due in part because heart related problems tend to develop with age. Older women are more likely to be diabetic, to develop high blood cholesterol levels, to develop high blood pressure, and to be more physically inactive than younger women.
The health of the heart for some women’s ethnic groups can be at greater risk than other women. The death rate for stroke victims is higher in African American women, and can be as much as twenty four percent higher than white women. They are also sixty percent more likely to die of coronary heart disease than white women.
Women who have had early menopause are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as women of their age who have not begun menopause. It does not matter if menopause was natural or if they surgically had their ovaries removed. The health of the heart after women’s menopause places them at a greater risk for heart disease. This is partly because less estrogen is produced by their bodies.
The more risk factors a woman has, the greater the chances are for her developing heart problems. For instance, smoking cigarettes and having high blood pressure raises the chances for developing coronary heart disease. If a woman smokes, has high cholesterol, and also high blood pressure, the risk can go up to five times higher than a woman with no risk factors. For the health of their heart women’s risk factors should be reduced if not eliminated when possible.