Heart Disease in Women: Know Your Risk

August 01, 2018

While most people are aware of the “typical” heart disease symptoms—chest discomfort, the feeling of “an elephant sitting on your chest”—what many don’t know is that women who suffer from heart disease often don’t experience these classic symptoms.

Josephine Randazzo, DO, invasive cardiologist with Kettering Physician Network, explains that the two most common symptoms of heart disease in women are shortness of breath and fatigue.

“But women often don’t pay attention to these signs,” says Dr. Randazzo. “They often think they’re just getting older or that they’ve done too much recently.” 

A lack of awareness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. But because of women’s lack of awareness on the subject, women often don’t get evaluated appropriately and their heart disease is caught later, when it’s progressed to later stages.

Women tend to take care of everyone around them—their children, spouses, parents. However, the most common reason that women don’t get screened for heart disease is that they don’t pay enough attention to themselves while in the midst of caring for everyone else.

Be aware of your risk factors

“The first thing I recommend,” says Dr. Randazzo, “is that if you have a family history of heart disease, start getting evaluations 10 years before that family member was diagnosed.” For example, if you have a family member who had a heart attack at the age of 45, your screenings should start at the age of 35. “By the time you turn 50, you should be having heart screenings,” says Dr. Randazzo.

The most common risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

How can I prevent heart disease?

As with many diseases, a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention. Maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. Dr. Randazzo recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, where moderate is defined as the heart rate you’d achieve at a brisk walk. Make your health your priority; as Dr. Randazzo says, “Most people have 30 minutes they can carve out for heart health.”

Click here to request your heart screening or call (937) 395-8492.