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Heart disease is an equal-opportunity killer. It’s America’s leading cause of death in both sexes. But it can affect women and men in very different ways.
Age-Old Questions Answered
Men generally develop heart disease at a younger age than women. But women catch up around age 65. After menopause begins, women are more apt to have high triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. Men, on the other hand, tend to have lower levels of HDL, which may contribute to their earlier heart disease risk.
Heart disease in a parent increases risk in both sexes. This is especially true if the father was younger than age 55 or mother younger than age 65 when diagnosed. Fortunately, risk factors we can control — such as diet, smoking and exercise — can be more important in determining heart health than family history, says some research.
Different Tests for Different Genders?
Heart disease in women is harder to diagnose with tests traditionally used to diagnose heart disease in men, such as exercise stress tests and electrocardiograms (ECG). So, they may be better served by certain blood tests, stress echocardiograms, and a type of electronic scan of the arteries called electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT), suggests some new research. But a woman and her doctor can decide what types of screenings are best for her.
Heart Attack Signs
Chest pain is the most common and well-known sign of heart attack. The discomfort might feel like pressure, squeezing or fullness. It usually starts in the center of the chest and may last awhile, or go away and come back.
Other common symptoms include:
Chest pain is common among women as well as men. But women are more likely than men to have some of the other symptoms of heart attack.
Could These Heart Tests Help You?
Today’s health care technology can give doctors an edge when it comes to assessing your heart health. If you have certain symptoms or are at high risk for heart disease, your doctor may recommend one or more of these tests:
Attend Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Women’s Heart Health Expo
March 16, 2013, from 9 am to noon, Sharp Grossmont Auditorium
Enjoy a morning of free education designed to empower women with life-saving tips on how to keep your heart healthy. The event features physician-led talks, health screenings, free breakfast and more. Hosted by Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Women’s Health Center and the Heart and Vascular Department. Register now or call 1-800-82-SHARP.
For More Heart and Vascular Information
To learn more about cardiac services at Sharp Grossmont, visit Heart and Vascular Care at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
To learn more about Sharp's cardiac services, visit Heart and Vascular Care, or to find a Sharp-affiliated cardiologist or vascular surgeon, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, or search for a San Diego cardiologist or a San Diego vascular surgeon