Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Each
year, approximately 600,000 people will die of heart disease, nearly half of them women. And yet many still believe that heart disease is a man’s disease. It’s not.
There are some possible differences, however, between men and women when it comes to heart disease.
Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses these differences and the heart disease risk factors that are the same for everyone:
Age. Men are considered at cardiovascular risk starting at 40. Women, on the other hand, are considered at cardiac risk starting at 50. That does not mean that women under the age of 50 have no risk for heart disease, so any symptoms should
not be disregarded. The incidence of heart disease between men and women equalizes around 65, and studies then show that women actually begin to surpass heart disease events in comparison to men.
Symptoms. Typically, men exhibit more classic cardiac symptoms, including pain across the chest that radiates down the arms, back and jaw, and shortness of breath. Women might display more atypical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness
and syncope (fainting/temporary loss of consciousness). In fact, the most common symptom in women over 80 is not chest pain but shortness of breath.
Risk Factors. The risk factors are the same for both men and women. The major risk factors for coronary artery disease are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
If you think you might be at risk, see your physician for more information.
Do you know your risk for heart disease?
Fact: Most women will live longer than their male counterparts. Why? There are several reasons but
one of the biggest is the way many men approach their own healthcare. Men are less likely to maintain a regular schedule of health checks and more likely to wait before seeking medical attention when symptoms arise.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in every three people in the United States; it causes or worsens severe health concerns like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes; and it’s nearly symptomless until the damage to arteries and
the body is done. That’s a big problem for everyone, but especially for men who aren’t proactive about their own healthcare.
What’s normal? What’s high? And what do the numbers mean? Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, with 120 representing the systolic pressure, or the pressure of your blood against the walls of your arteries when your heart beats, and 80 representing
diastolic pressure, or pressure between heart beats. Anything over 120/80 is considered prehypertensive and hypertension begins at 140/90. Medications are prescribed and recommended for blood pressures starting at 139/89.
If you’ve heard the words “high blood pressure” in your doctor’s office, the time to make important lifestyle changes has come. If you’re prehypertensive, these lifestyle changes can help reverse the rise.
Philip Krause, MD, Cardiologist and Director of the Section of Cardiology at NorthShore’s Skokie Hospital, shares his recommendations for simple changes to make now:
Do you worry about your blood pressure levels? How do you keep it in check?