Seeing red? February is Women’s Heart Month, and each year women around the country wear scarlet to raise awareness of the risk heart disease poses for women.
Heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States, causing one of every three deaths, according to the American Heart Association. Yet, experts say, many women are not accurately diagnosed or treated for the disease.
“The lack of information about heart disease that is tailored specifically for women is shocking,” says Karol Watson, MD, PhD, a UCLA cardiologist and director of the UCLA Women’s Cardiovascular Center.
Here’s what every woman should know about this deadly disease.
The term describes a number of problems that affect the blood vessels or the heart itself. Common causes of heart disease include:
A variety of factors raise your risk of developing heart disease:
Heart disease can look different in women than it does in men. Some women experience symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain or discomfort, fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, or fluttering heartbeat. But many experience no symptoms at all.
What’s more, heart attack symptoms can differ between genders, too. Most people think chest pain is the classic sign of a heart attack. While that’s still common in women, they are more likely to experience lesser-known signs of a heart attack, including nausea, shortness of breath and pain in the back or jaw. If you don’t know these may be signs of a problem, you may not think to get help immediately – so understanding possible symptoms is key to saving lives.
Some of the risk factors for heart disease, such as age or family history, are out of your hands, but many are things that you can control. To lower your risk:
Women of any age can have heart disease, even athletes and healthy-eating aficionados. That’s why it’s important to have a regular physical exam. Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re at risk of developing heart disease, and what you can do to prevent it.
Learn more about the UCLA Women’s Cardiovascular Center, a program dedicated to the prevention, treatment and management of heart disease in women.
Tags: abnormal heart rhythms, alcohol consumption, atherosclerosis, blood pressure, blood sugar, Cardiology, chest pain, cigarette smoking, diabetes, Dr. Karol Watson, fluttering heartbeat, Healthy Living, healthy weight, heart attack, heart attack symptoms, heart disease, heart failure, Heart Health, Heart Month, heart valve disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, obesity, physical activity, sleep apnea, UCLA Women's Cardiovascular Center, Wellness, women's health, Women's Health
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