According to the American Heart Association, "Heart disease is the number one threat to women's health".
The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou
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Almost as many women as men have some type of heart problem. But when it comes to identifying symptoms and receiving treatment, an American Heart Association study found that "women were less likely to receive care according to established heart attack guidelines and were more likely to die from the condition than men."
Research has found that heart disease in women often looks different than in men. For example, diagnosing a heart attack in women requires more specialized blood tests. The study warns that "the problem is to convince both the public sector and the doctor that coronary heart disease is also a woman's disease, not a man's disease in disguise."
The American Heart Association claims that 60 million women have some form of cardiovascular disease, that's about half of the US adult population.
Most harmful metabolic risk factors for women
A woman who is a smoker and has high blood pressure or high cholesterol may be at risk of dying from heart disease. Unfortunately, other factors are more difficult to control.
Marcella Calfon Press, MD, is a cardiologist in Los Angeles, California. She is clinical associate professor of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the UCLA Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health.
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According to Dr. Calfon, diabetes, insulin resistance, high triglyceride levels, and excess carbohydrates are incredibly harmful for women. Both men and women benefit from a reduction in cholesterol.
Emotional and mental stress should not be overlooked
In terms of heart disease, stress plays a huge role in affecting heart disease risks. Dr. Calfon clarifies that men and women cope with stress differently. Stress, just being mental and not physical, can be very damaging. "Acute and chronic stress can affect high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating," says Dr. Calfon.
Heart disease is prevalent in the younger population, which means that having good habits from childhood can prevent heart attacks in the future. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to avoid any disease.
How to prevent it
Dr. Calfon recommends starting with moderate intensity exercise and then getting used to high intensity. "At least try to do thirty minutes five times a week," she adds. The active session can include anything from calisthenics to cycling, gardening, golf, swimming, and walking.
For those who like to challenge themselves, "the recommendations are to get at least 75 minutes a week of high intensity exercise." Women can potentially have more benefits than men if they overdo it, according to the doctor.
Although heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, Dr. Calfon claims that it can be prevented and that it is up to us to control it. Acquiring healthy lifestyle habits and some medications, when necessary, are the most effective measures.
"We need to focus on awareness and diagnosis and continue treatment because it is working. There are clear improvements in outcomes for women in this country thanks to all of our efforts," says Dr. Calfon