Dr. Starling explains the causes and symptoms of heart failure in women and provides advice on ways to prevent heart failure in your future Dr. Mark Starling graduated from the University of Washington and now practices medicine at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, Arizona.
I am Mark Starling. I am a cardiologist by training and am presently the Chief Medical Officer at Banner Heart Hospital.
Heart failure is really a symptom complex. It results from long-term exposure to risk factors that ultimately cause some structural change in the heart, either an inability to eject blood or an inability to fill the heart effectively, and it leads to the symptoms of heart failure.
Symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, when you exert yourself which can become progressively delimiting based on the amount of exertion over time. You could be short of breath at night. You can’t lie down in bed. Your ankles can swell, there can be a lot of different signs and symptoms of heart failure but it comes from many different causes, but really it’s structural heart disease.
Most commonly in women, it is due to having a high blood pressure for a long period of time that leads to a particular form of structural heart disease that causes the symptoms.
Heart failure, really from high blood pressure risk, is really what we call diastolic heart failure. It’s usually in older women. Their heart is able to pump blood just fine. It’s just that it becomes what we call stiff and it doesn’t fill effectively and as a consequence, blood or fluid can back up behind it and lead to shortness of breath, particularly with some activity.
I think the key message to women universally is, to prevent heart failure you need to effectively address the risk factors for heart failure at a much earlier age, and what I mean by that is that if you have blood pressure that is 140/80 or 90, that’s too high in your 40s or 50s. It should be 130 or 120 over 70 or 80, so early intervention to minimize the risks of developing structural heart disease will in turn minimize the risks of developing symptomatic heart failure.
Diabetes is another risk factor that’s key in women and we know that women outcome from, if they are diabetic and they have a heart attack their outcome is far worse than it is in men or in women without diabetes and again, managing risk factors, and in that case, not uncommonly patients, women would lead to having heart failure as a result of that heart attack more commonly than not. So again, managing risk factors effectively and early is a key message.
About Dr. Mark Starling, M.D.:
Dr. Mark Starling graduated from the University of Washington, B.A. Degrees, cum laude, History and Literature. After a studying French Language and Literature at the University of Paris in France, Starling returned to Washington to study medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He graduated in 1974 with honors. Over the years, Dr. Starling has been that Associate Professor of Medicine in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Cardiology Division at both the University of Texas and the University of Michigan.
Conditions: Heart Failure, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure,
Related Terms: Shortness of Breath, Ejection Fraction, Edema, Exercise Intolerance, Fatigue, Echocardiogram, Electrocardiogram, Weak Heart Muscle
Expert: Dr. Mark Starling, Dr. Mark Starling, M.D., Doctor Starling, Chief Medical Officer Mark Starling, Women's Heart Health Specialist Cardiologist Dr. Mark Starling
Expertise: Peripheral Artery Disease, Heart Disease Risks, Heart Disease Management, Cardiac Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Disease Prevention, Blood Pressure Testing, Cholesterol Testing, Robotic Catheter Ablation, Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Failure Warning Signs, Heart Failure Prevention