Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Awareness, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies

Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Awareness, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies

By Published On: June 24th, 2024Categories: Article, Cardiovascular

One of the biggest issues women face in their lifetimes is an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. It accounts for 1 out of every 3 female deaths in the US, with approximately 300,000 women dying of CVD in 2023 alone. In fact, women have a much higher risk of dying of CVD than from uterine, breast, and ovarian cancers combined. And women are less likely than men to receive optimal CVD therapy such as lifestyle changes, aspirin, and cholesterol or blood pressure medications.

Traditional and Non-traditional Risk Factors

Classic CVD risk factors that affect both women and men are:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity/overweight
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of exercise

For women, non-traditional risk factors for CVD also include:

  • Preterm delivery
  • High blood pressure in pregnancy
  • High sugar or diabetes in pregnancy
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Breast cancer treatment
  • Depression
  • Menopause

Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Awareness, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies

Menopause and Its Impact

As women enter into menopause, the cardioprotective effects of estrogen on women’s overall cardiovascular health, including its effects on blood pressure control, cholesterol, and weight, decreases. And although women may experience the classic signs of a heart attack such as chest pain, jaw pain, left arm pain, and sweating, they can also have different symptoms such as decreased energy, fatigue, or dizziness. So, what to do?

In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress management:

  • Know your numbers. While blood sugar (glucose) and LDL (bad) cholesterol are important, ask your medical provider for a “deeper” dive. There are advanced cardiovascular markers such as APO B, LDL-P, HsCRP, LP-PLA2, MPO, and Hemoglobin A1C that provide a broader picture of your cardiovascular disease risk.
  • Know your anatomy. There are simple non-invasive tests like a carotid intima media thickening study (CIMT) or coronary artery CT scan (CAC) that can look for early plaque in the arteries.
  • Know your family. Inquire about your family history of cardiovascular disease. Talk to your mom, grandmother, and aunts, if possible.
  • Know your future. While menopause is inevitable, it is possible to decrease your overall cardiovascular disease risk. Address cardiovascular disease issues head-on with a functional medicine doctor to optimize your future health and vitality.

Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Awareness, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies

Lifestyle Modifications for Better Heart Health

Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways for women to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Simple yet powerful changes to diet, exercise, stress management, and other habits can have a profound impact on overall cardiovascular well-being.

When it comes to diet, a plant-based approach focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is recommended. The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, fish, nuts, and legumes, has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in women. Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling can help control weight, reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. Stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and sufficient sleep are also crucial, as chronic stress can contribute to inflammation and other risk factors for cardiovascular issues.

Other posts you may enjoy:

Cardiovascular Disease and Gender explores a deeper look at CVD between the sexes

5 Tests to Prevent Heart Disease includes further insight into investigative testing

At Companion Health, we are here to help you live healthier, more joyful lives. We can evaluate CVD risks for you, your mom, or anyone you love.

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About the Author: Kiran Dodeja Smith

Kiran Dodeja Smith
Kiran Dodeja Smith is a health coach, blogger, and marketing expert who has been interested in health & fitness since the age of 16. After moving to Charlotte in 2000, she worked with a regional bridal publication before creating her own local print magazine, Little Ones, which she successfully ran for 8 years. She is a lifelong learner who keeps a pulse on the latest health and lifestyle trends and has over 13 years-worth of experience teaching group exercise classes.

This is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute any practice of medicine or professional health care services of any type. The use of information on this blog is at the user’s own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, for diagnosis, or for treatment. Please seek the care of your health care professionals for any questions or concerns.