Debunking myths about women and heart disease
“I thought it was the flu.” “I’m way too young.” “Heart disease is linked only to being overweight and it’s embarrassing.”
These are just some of the misconceptions women often have after having a heart attack or about heart disease in general.
“It’s extremely important for women to know the facts and understand their unique risks,” says Dr. Patrycja Galazka, cardiologist at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, WI, whose clinical interest includes women’s heart disease. “Women should be aware of their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and body mass index numbers –and discuss those numbers with their doctor. Sex and gender matter when it comes to heart disease.”
For example, many women are not aware that sex-specific risk factors like pregnancy complications or early menopause can increase their risk for heart disease. “Pregnancy can be a natural stress test for a woman that identifies her risk,” says Dr. Galazka, “These conditions may disappear after pregnancy and be forgotten until later in life when you’ve already developed heart disease.” Plus, women can experience different symptoms during a heart attack compared to men.
Dr. Galazka offers some myths and facts that women – and their loved ones – should know:
About the Author
Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Aurora Health in Milwaukee. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.