younger women can lower their heart attack risk

How younger women can lower their heart attack risk

Women's Health,

When we think of women’s health issues, many people, doctors included, first think about diseases such as breast cancer. These are indeed serious problems, but many forget that the biggest cause of mortality—in both men and women—is heart disease, not cancer.

And many people, again, doctors included, think of heart disease as basically a man’s problem. But heart disease does not discriminate by gender. Numerous studies however have shown that the medical profession is quicker to detect heart attacks in men than in women.

Heart attack symptoms different

Part of the problem is that the symptoms of heart attack in women are more likely to be different, and more subtle. (Read this recent post about the symptoms of heart attack in women.)

Increasing in younger women

Population studies are showing that more younger women are suffering heart attacks than in the past. While the rate of heart attacks in young men has been stable or decreasing, the rate in young women has increased. A National Institutes of Health (USA) study showed that in 1999, 21% of people aged 35 to 54 hospitalized for heart attack were women. In 2014, this percentage increased to 31%.

Why increasing in women?

Researchers believe that there are several reasons heart attacks are increasing in women below age 54. Obesity rates are higher, and now, more young women than young men are obese. Higher rates of obesity mean more high blood pressure and diabetes; directly related to heart disease.

The role of stress

The researchers from the National Institutes of Health believe that while these traditional risk factors are important, that women may be more susceptible than men to psychosocial risk factors. The main factor here is stress. Men and women who are chronically mentally stressed have higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which can slowly damage the heart and other organs.

What should a younger woman do?

First be alert to the signs of heart attack, that are different than a man clutching his chest and falling forward! Second, talk to your doctor about your risk factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, and family history. If you have high blood pressure—even though it has no symptoms—treat it. If your fasting blood sugars are creeping up to the pre-diabetes level, work better on your diet and physical activity. Likewise, if your weight is above the ideal range.

And don’t be shy about discussing stress in your life with a trusted doctor. If you are chronically stressed or depressed, there is good treatment available—counseling, mediation, better diet, physical activity, medication, or some combination. Finally, remember that heart disease is not only a man’s problem!

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

Heart attacks in women may present with different symptoms

Research shows decreasing alcohol intake may help PMS

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Recommended doctors

This post is related to specialty Cardiology. Below is a list of some physicians related to this specialty.