Why cardiovascular disease a greater risk to women than men

Image Credit: WCBD

(WCBD) – Cardiovascular disease is a killer for both men and women; however, for the past thirty years the death rate has been higher for women than men.

Monday, the American Heart Association released a statement that aims to identify why women carry more risk than men when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease kills more women than men

According to the AHA, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

Dr. Deborah Kwon, M.D., a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, agrees with the AHA’s statement that women don’t always recognize the signs of heart attack, which could be part of the problem.

“They don’t necessarily have the crushing chest pain where it feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest,” said Dr. Kwon. “But they may have something more like back pain, or jaw pain, and so it may not come to patient’s forefront of their mind that they may be having a heart attack.”

Creating awareness

The AHA statement indicates that in the past 15 years, there has been a significant decline in the number of women killed by cardiovascular disease

They attribute the decline to a combination of evidence-based therapies and increased education for both patients and doctors.

Despite these advances, the AHA said that more needs to be done to educate folks about cardiovascular risk for women, especially when it comes to younger women.

Dr. Kwon said that being proactive and creating enough awareness among women of their risk for heart problems is the key to further reducing death rates in the United States.

“I think that women should really be very proactive in their health in terms of primary prevention,” said Dr. Kwon. ”They should really make sure that they’re seeing a doctor regularly, that they’re engaging in a healthy lifestyle – actively exercising and eating a healthy diet.”

Dr. Kwon also said that women, who are often the primary caregivers in their household, must remember to take care of themselves as well.

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