How Heart Health Differs for Men and Women

Based on current statistics, one out of every three deaths — whether you’re a man or a woman — is the result of heart disease. While these statistics show that both men and women are equally at risk, how the disease develops is different between the sexes.

At Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants, under the medical direction of interventional cardiologist Dr. Erick Calderon, we are very aware of how heart health differs for men and women, and we want to share that information with you. Knowing the differences in the risk factors for heart disease may help you make the changes needed to reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Heart disease risk factors

For many people, the first indication of heart disease is that first heart attack. For men, the average age of a first heart attack is 65 and for women it’s 72.

While it’s not entirely clear why heart disease develops earlier in men, it’s been theorized that it has a lot to do with lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking, and stress. For women, it’s believed that estrogen offers a little extra protection against the deadly disease, delaying its onset until after menopause.

But while women seem to have an upper hand thanks to their hormones, diabetes may cancel out the protective benefits of estrogen. Women with diabetes are at greater risk of developing heart disease at a younger age like men.

Adding high blood pressure and high cholesterol into the mix — referred to as metabolic syndrome — further increases a woman’s risk of heart disease. Smoking is also more detrimental to women’s heart health than men’s.

Heart attack symptoms

You may have read some of the many reports that heart attack symptoms of men and women are different. But that may not be entirely true.

Common symptoms of a heart attack for men and women include:

But when having a heart attack, women are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting than men. And in some cases, women may not experience any symptoms at all, which is referred to as a silent heart attack.

The types of activities that are likely to lead to a heart attack differ between men and women. Women may have a heart attack going about their usual day, while men are more likely to experience a heart attack during strenuous activity. Women are also more likely to have a heart attack while sleeping.

Strokes are more common in women

More women have strokes in the United States than men. This is mostly because women live longer than men and stroke risk increases as you age. Women with a history of migraines with auras, depression, or diabetes are at greater risk of having a stroke.

Recovery from a stroke also tends to be more difficult for women than men. Many women experience more pain, anxiety, and depression following their stroke, with reports of limited mobility and a decrease in quality of life.

Keeping your heart healthy

Whether you’re a man or woman, taking steps to improve heart health may help prevent heart disease and a heart attack or stroke. We recommend:

At Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants, we use ultrasound technology to assess your risk for heart disease. The ultrasound captures images of your blood vessels and the degree of blockage. Knowing your risk may provide you with the motivation you need to make the necessary changes to improve heart health.

Fortunately, heart disease is preventable. Let us help you take the steps you need to improve your heart health. Call Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants today or book online.

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