Women with no symptoms may be at risk for heart disease

According to results published in Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter, “heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.” There are many people who assume that men are more susceptible to coronary artery disease and other heart problems. However, according to the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the alarming fact is more American women, nearly 489,000, die of heart disease than men each year.

Ischemic syndrome is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart due to clogged arteries. A lack of sufficient blood flow eventually can lead to heart attacks. Based on findings from the WISE study, undetected blockages and stiffening in women’s smaller heart blood vessels, or microvessels, prevented oxygen-rich blood from reaching heart tissue. Standard protocol is for cardiologists to examine the coronary artery for obstructions. However, when angiography tests fail to detect blocked microvessels, doctors are more likely to misdiagnose women’s symptoms or miss them altogether.

In order to prevent blood vessel damage, make heart-healthy lifestyle choices, as recommended by the Harvard newsletter:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking/using tobacco products
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Maintain regular blood pressure levels
  • Seek treatment for depression and/or anxiety
  • Get regular checkups if you have increased risk factors (premenopausal women, African American women, family history of heart disease, autoimmune disorders)

 

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Peyton Kennedy

By Peyton Kennedy

Peyton Kennedy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from Auburn University. Her varied experience includes journalism, marketing, public relations and social media. She currently lives in Birmingham, Ala., with her husband Tom and dog Mosby. In her spare time, Kennedy enjoys movies, reading and Auburn football.