Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart attacks and strokes, claim the life of a woman about every 80 seconds.
According to a recent report published by the American Heart Association, heart disease remains the leading killer of women in the U.S., killing one in three women every year.
What the report also shows, is that heart attacks are on the rise in younger women and new data suggests that younger generations of women, especially Gen Z and Millennials, along with Black and Hispanic women, are less likely to be aware of their greatest health risks, including knowing the warning signs of heart attacks and strokes.
Heart disease and stroke do not just affect men. And while many women here in the United States worry about developing breast cancer, more women die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, accidents, and diabetes combined. Women can experience heart disease differently than men. And the symptoms, progress, and outcome of cardiovascular disease may not be the same. And, as a result, women are more likely to be underdiagnosed and undertreated than men.
According to the most recent statistics, 44.7% of women age 20 and older had some form of cardiovascular disease. And while women generally experience a heart attack at an older age than men, they are more likely than men to die as a result of it --- often within just a few weeks after a heart attack.
Despite the misconception, cardiovascular disease is largely preventable.
And while death rates due to heart disease have, for the last 40 years, been steadily declining, this trend appears to be stalling. The latest data suggests that deaths in some populations, including adults ages 35 to 64, are on the rise. And This is an alarming trend. It’s a trend that points to the need to focus attention and action on improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans.
Doctors and other healthcare providers play an important role in helping patients to manage the risk of heart disease. They are important in helping their patients avoid unhealthy behaviors that may put them at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
So what should doctors and other healthcare providers do? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is important to focus on just a small set of priorities to help Keep People Healthy. For example:
•Help patients to reduce their average daily sodium intake by 20%
•Help them to stop using tobacco and
•Help them increasing physical activity when this is possible and safe.
•Help them know their numbers” … their blood pressure, their cholesterol and their blood sugar levels –
And while some risk factors such as gender, age, and family history, cannot be changed, there are many risk factors that can be modified through healthy lifestyle habits. This will not only reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it may also reduce the risk of some cancers and diabetes.
Assessment and prevention strategies should start early life. And while there is no set age for this assessment to start, keep in mind that women are at high risk for cardiovascular diseases.
And again, know that the majority of cardiovascular disease can be prevented. As a doctor or a member of a care team, you play an important role in assessing, counseling, and treating women at risk, by helping them to reduce their risk, you’ll also help them decrease their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, including a heart attack or stroke.