Sometimes, being number one isn’t a good thing. Unfortunately for women, heart disease is no longer a disease reserved only for the Type-A corporate male executives. Not only do women get heart disease, but it remains the number one killer of women.
According to the Mayo Clinic, more women die each year of heart disease than men. The higher death rate may be due in part to unique gender differences in heart disease symptoms and risk factors. While not meant to be an exhaustive list, we’ll take a look at closer look at some of the types of heart disease in women.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease, sometimes referred to as CHD or simply heart disease, is the most common form of heart disease. Affecting both men and women, CHD is a serious condition which involves a narrowing or blockage of the arteries leading in and out of the heart muscle.
Women generally develop CHD about 10 years later in life on average than men. As the arteries become blocked, blood flow becomes restricted, preventing the heart from delivering adequate supplies of oxygen to the rest of the body. This form of heart disease is a serious condition because it can lead to numerous heart-related complications, some of which may be life-threatening.
Complications from CHD include heart failure, arrhythmias, sudden cardiac arrest or SCA, heart attack, and death. CHD accounts for the majority of heart-related deaths in women. Women with migraines, especially migraines with auras, may be more prone to develop CHD.
Coronary Microvascular Disease
Coronary Microvascular Disease, or MVD, is a type of heart disease which recent research indicates is more common in women than men. Unlike CHD which affects the major heart arteries, MVD affects small arteries that surround the heart.
In persons with MVD, the small arteries either become damaged or diseased. Spasms or a tightening occurs because these small arteries do not relax properly.
It’s thought that menopause and the lower levels of estrogen may be a contributing factor to the development of this type of heart disease in women.
MVD can be life-threatening.