Heart diseases, which encompass a group of heart and blood vessel disorders, are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 18 million people die from these diseases each year.
The Woman Post | Ayda María Martínez Ipuz
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It is estimated that one in every two women will die from cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease compared to 1 in 25 women who will die from breast cancer. Additionally, these types of diseases are the leading cause of death among first-time mothers. Therefore, heart disease in these cases requires more attention, more research, and prompt action.
How are women affected?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart diseases can affect women of any age, although there are events that can increase the risk of developing them, such as pregnancy and menopause. Furthermore, research has shown that stress can also be a contributing factor, highlighting the importance for women to understand the connection between their physical health and mental well-being.
In general, between 10% and 20% of women will experience a health problem during pregnancy, and factors such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes significantly increase the risk of women developing heart disease later in life. Other conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndrome, obesity, or mild to moderate high blood pressure also increase a woman's risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Regarding heart diseases, women are more likely than men to have a "silent" disease due to the absence of symptoms or the fact that the heart disease they experience can sometimes be harder to diagnose.
The most common heart conditions in women include:
- Microvascular coronary disease: chest pain caused by spasms (sudden contractions) in the smaller arteries of the heart, which impede blood flow. It usually occurs during rest or routine activities.
- Broken heart syndrome: intense chest pain or similar symptoms to a heart attack. It is caused by the stress of intense emotions such as deep sorrow, anger, or surprise. It primarily affects women after menopause and usually does not cause any long-term damage.
- Variant angina: severe chest pain due to spasms in the heart's arteries. Typically, the pain occurs in a specific pattern during sleep.
Take timely action
Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented through patient education and promoting lifestyle changes. Since these diseases sometimes present without symptoms, it is important to maintain regular follow-ups with your doctor regarding personal risk.
Remember, to maintain heart health, it is ideal to adopt a healthy diet, avoid harmful consumption of alcohol and tobacco, incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, manage stress, maintain adequate mental well-being, and identify individuals exposed to high risks of cardiovascular diseases in advance and prioritize their access to appropriate treatment.
"Self-care is promoted through education and by emphasizing the importance of monitoring cardiovascular health at all stages of life. Many of these conditions are preventable through changes in habits and a healthy lifestyle," said Juan Carlos Madriñan from Medtronic Central Latin America.