Women and Heart Disease

What is it?

Heart disease is a disorder that affects the heart muscle or the blood vessels of the heart. Heart disease can manifest itself in many ways, including heart attack, heart failure and arrhythmias.

Millions of women heading for menopause are also heading for heart disease – and many of them have it and don’t know it. By the age of 50, most women are more overweight and more sedentary than men, and more women than men have high cholesterol (total blood cholesterol over 240), a major risk factor for heart disease. All three factors — overweight, inactivity and high cholesterol — add up to make millions of American women candidates for heart disease.

Women live more than one-third of their lives after menopause, so if they don’t tackle heart disease head-on they could be setting the stage for years of disability. An estimated one million women already have heart disease when menopause hits, but — because symptoms often are silent — many don’t know it.

Why women are at risk

Overweight women have twice the risk for heart disease as healthy-weight women. One in five women has some form of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease.

The good news is heart disease can be diagnosed and treated. Internists are uniquely qualified to know all the signs and symptoms in women.

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