Different Types of Cardiovascular Disease, Risk Factors and PreventionMay 31, 2023
I read a lot about how cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women in the United States. More so than Breast cancer! But then I ask myself . . . what does this consist of? What types of cardiovascular disease is there? How can we lower our risk?
Common Cardiovascular Disease
Chest pain due to reduced blood flow to the heart.
Abnormal heart rhythm, can affect how the heart delivers oxygen to the tissues, and some types of arrhythmia can lead to blood clots that cause stroke.
Buildup of fat, cholesterol, inflammatory cells, and other substances in arteries (known as plaques). The plaques reduce blood flow and can burst, causing a blood clot that can block the artery. Atherosclerosis is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Reduced blood flow to the heart that is significant enough to damage the heart.
Damaged heart muscle that affects the ability to the heart to pump blood to the tissues.
Complex changes involving blood vessels, the heart, and chemical signals. It's not a disease per se; rather, it damages organs such as the heart, brain, and kidneys. It's a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE
Reduced blood flow to the legs due to narrowed arteries; it causes pain and can damage tissues.
A clot that critically reduces blood flow to part of the brain. Atherosclerosis increases the risk. Any condition that increases the ability of the blood to clot also increases the risk.
Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease develops 7-10 years later for women than for men.
Delayed onset for women could be because of an increase in metabolically active fat that occurs with the menopause transition.
Traditional risk factors aside from menopause and for women and men are:
Increasing age, smoking, lack of physical activity, being sedentary, being overweight, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
It's essential for women to get screened for type 2 diabetes to prevent diabetes-related complications but also to receive preventative treatment for cardiovascular disease as needed.
Other factors that increase a woman's chance of cardiovascular disease that aren't well understood:
*having endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
*women who developed diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or high blood pressure during pregnancy
Based on this information, if you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, please advocate for yourself to be screened.
Increasing physical activity and quitting smoking also help lower changes for cardiovascular disease in the future.
Women typically receive less counseling than men about risk factors for cardiovascular disease and what they can do preventative-health wise!
Screening for Cardiovascular Disease:
This should be done every 2-3 years starting at age 40 for women at average risk, but women at higher risk may need screening sooner and/or more often.
Risk factors that may warrant earlier screening are: smoking, increased waist circumference, type 2 diabetes, personal history of endometriosis, PCOS, or diabetes during pregnancy.
Questions?! Email Dr. Christine Klein at [email protected]
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