Cardiological diseases and heart disease in women. Tips to prevent them

Cardiological diseases and heart disease in women. Tips to prevent them

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in women over 65. Dr. Chiara Comoglio from MioDottore explains how to recognize symptoms

Cardiac diseases in women are often diagnosed late due to non-specific symptoms.

Most of the clinical, epidemiological research and all the observations underlying medical actions have so far been conducted on humans, then transferred to women without adequate scientific evidence. Some pathologies in the collective imagination are perceived as male at the expense of adequate prevention even in women.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in women over the age of 65 and this is a totally unrecognized fact, not only in the general population but sometimes in the medical field. 40% of female deaths are due to heart attack and stroke, women die much more from cardiovascular disease than from all cancers combined, including breast cancer.

To better understand how to take preventative action on risks, we interviewed Dr. Chiara Comoglio, cardiologist and surgeon, of MioDottore – a leading platform in Italy and in the world specialized in online booking of medical visits and part of the DocPlanner group.

What are the most common cardiological diseases that occur in women?
In women, the most common pathology is ischemic heart disease, which manifests itself with the infarct.

When it appears it appears to be more severe in women than in men. This depends on the fact that in women it occurs at a later age in the presence of multiple risk factors. Unfortunately there is also an anatomical predisposition having more slender and tortuous coronary arteries. The symptomatology is less intense in women (the woman generally has no "typical" male pain), with the tendency to underestimate and neglect the symptoms that delay the request for help and therefore the medical or surgical intervention.

Could you kindly provide a brief description of these diseases (easily if possible)?
Ischemic heart disease is characterized by an insufficient supply of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. The most frequent cause is atherosclerosis, the presence of cholesterol-rich plaques / thickenings in the coronary arteries, which can obstruct or reduce blood flow.

Sudden coronary obstruction can lead to myocardial infarction with a high risk of circulatory arrest.

What are the symptoms and causes?
The prolongation of the average life causes heart diseases to represent an emergency for women's health. Heart disease affects women about ten years later than men. In women, adequate medical / surgical treatment arrives late because the symptoms are generally atypical:

  • Chest pain (angina pectoris or anginal pain), with tightness and pain in the chest, which can radiate to the neck and jaw. A pain that can also extend to the left arm or stomach which can be confused with a stomach ache,
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath / dyspnea
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and vomit
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Feelings of anxiety, loss of appetite, general malaise

In women, these symptoms often present themselves more subtly so that they tend to be underestimated.

During the fertile phase of their lives, women have a hormonal profile characterized by the presence of estrogens, hormones that positively influence risk factors by reducing the causes of the onset of heart diseases.

The most frequent causes of ischemic heart disease are:

  • Atherosclerosis in association with the presence of specific cardiovascular risk factors:
  • Hypercholesterolemia or increased levels of cholesterol in the blood, which proportionally raises the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Arterial hypertension (the "high blood pressure") that can have various causes
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Sedentary life
  • Obesity
  • Smoke
  • Genetic predisposition

The incidence of risk factors is high in women and is continuously increasing, even in young women:

  • 40% of women over 55 have high cholesterol levels,
  • 50% of women have high blood pressure after age 45,
  • 25% do not perform regular physical activity,
  • Obesity and type 2 diabetes are very common in women and increasing among young women.

Some risk factors have a worse "prognostic weight" in women: diabetes is associated with a risk twice as high as in men; the interaction between smoking and hypertension is associated with a greater risk of stroke compared to men.

Furthermore, women can increase their risk profile even in childbearing age.

The contraceptive pill can favor the further onset of hypertension in some women (in 5% the pressure values ​​exceed 140/90 mmHg). This risk is higher in women over the age of 35, overweight, with a family history of hypertension or kidney disease.

Pregnancy can cause a picture of high blood pressure or diabetes. Hypertension appears in 8% of all pregnancies and constitutes one of the main causes of complications, even fatal, for the mother and the newborn. Antihypertensive and antidiabetic treatment should be started promptly with a suitable therapy. Finally, the smoke that must be absolutely avoided and even more so during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Estroprogestinic protection ends with menopause. When production fails, the advantage that women have had in the fertile period disappears, and the incidence and severity of cardiovascular diseases become equal, if not superior, to those of men. With menopause, the female body undergoes a series of changes that accompany it for the rest of life.

Category: Health
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