Coronary Artery Disease Women

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for adult women in the United States? It’s also a main cause of disability. However, many women aren’t aware of their risk for developing heart problems and many doctors aren’t aware of the seriousness of heart disease in women.

It is important for women to educate themselves on coronary artery disease and to know how the disease is different for them than it is for men. It’s also important for women to know how they can protect themselves from heart disease.

Symptoms of Coronary Disease in Women

Symptoms of coronary disease in women can be different than those for coronary disease in men. For example, women are less likely than men to exhibit the classic heart attack symptoms: chest pain that grips the chest and spreads to the shoulders, neck and arms. Also, women are more likely to have heart attacks caused by anxiety or mental stress, while men are more likely to have heart attacks related to exercise or exertion.

Here are some signs that a woman is experiencing coronary distress:

  • dyspnea (shortness of breath or labored breathing)
  • fatigue
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • shoulder or neck pain.

If you are experiencing chest pain or any of the above-mentioned symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Coronary Disease Risk Factors for Women

The following risk factors contribute to coronary disease in women:

  • Diabetes plays a stronger role in coronary disease in women than in men.
  • Menopause increases a woman’s risk of heart disease. In fact, a post-menopausal woman is two to three times more likely to have heart disease than a pre-menopausal woman.
  • Sedentary lifestyle is the most common risk factor for coronary artery disease in women.
  • Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in women.

Heart Disease Prevention Methods for Women

Preventing heart disease or lowering your risk for heart disease can be as simple as making a few lifestyle changes. In order to prevent heart disease and coronary artery disease, women should do the following:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. (link to heart-healthy-diet.php)
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. Moderate-intensity exercise includes brisk walking and swimming. (link to exercise-tips.php)
  • Keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 and your waist circumference less than 35 inches.
  • Limit the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol in your diet.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Women should drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
  • See your doctor on a regular basis and have your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels monitored regularly.
  • Stop smoking and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.

Treating Women with Coronary Artery Disease

If your doctor diagnoses you with coronary artery disease, she will likely discuss your treatment options and recommend lifestyle changes. There are a number of medications available to control the underlying causes of coronary artery disease, including:

  • ACE inhibitors, which lower blood pressure and reduce the heart’s workload (should be used by most women who are at a high risk of developing coronary artery disease)
  • ARB inhibitors, which lower blood pressure and reduce the workload of the heart (should be used by high-risk women with heart failure who cannot take ACE inhibitors)
  • beta-blocker medications, which slow heart rate and reduce the exertion of the heart
  • high blood pressure medications to control blood pressure
  • lipid-lowering medications to control cholesterol levels.