5 Important Things You Need To Know About Heart Disease In Women (And How An Ultrasound Can Detect It)

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Women have been conditioned to fear breast cancer over every other health issue, but the truth is, heart disease is killing American women at a greater rate than any type of cancer. Many of the risk factors for women are the exact same as they are for men, like obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and a life of inactivity. However, many people don’t realize that there are stark differences. Like, women are more likely to die from heart disease when compared to men and they’re also 50% more likely to experience a second heart attack, they also don’t recover as well following angioplasty or bypass surgery. However, women often don’t develop the disease until 10 years after the average man does.

This may be due to the hormone shift during menopause or it may be that coexisting conditions complicate matters. Why women don’t recover as well, though, may be down to the fact that they have smaller hearts which makes a surgery far more complicated. Additionally, some of the standard techniques just aren’t effective for women. The difference in heart attacks between men and women? The cause. For men, it’s often a rupture of plaque build-up, whereas for women it’s erosion. Both result in blood clotting.

1. Inflammation
Women who experience inflammation in the blood vessels along were twice as likely to die due to a stroke or heart attack, this is when compared to women with high cholesterol. Inflammation appears to be a greater risk. While there are other tests that can detect this, a cardiac ultrasound is an effective way to detect this issue in its earliest stages. This will allow doctor and patient to come to an agreement on what course of treatment to take or what lifestyle changes should be made to mitigate the risk.

2. Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is, of course, a risk. It can trigger inflammation which is necessary for plaque to develop. It compromises blood vessels and the overall health of the heart. Women aren’t as likely as men to experience high blood pressure until they reach 55. From there, the risk rises and around 80% of women aged 70 or older have high blood pressure. This is when a cardiac ultrasound can be of use. It allows doctors to take track of the heart to ensure there is no risk of heart attack.

3. Medications
A cardiac-ultrasound can let a doctor know whether a patient requires the use of medications. Whether it’s to treat high blood pressure or cholesterol levels or it’s something else. For women who already have heart disease, medication has proven to prevent heart attacks. While aspirin has long been recommended to reduce the risk of heart attack, studies have only found that to be true for men.

4. Improved Diagnosis
Perhaps the first cardiac ultrasound you may be given will be a stress test. This combines ultrasounds with exercise so a doctor can determine how your heart reacts to stress and physical activity. It provides them with a clear picture of what’s going on and for women, is a far more effective testing process than others.

5. Risk Assessment
A cardiac ultrasound can form part of a risk assessment that a doctor completes on a patient who may have heart problems in the family. It can detect any issues early on and rule out other problems as well. Early detection is vital to preventing heart attacks.