Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common heart disease for both men and women. This buildup of plaque in the arteries inhibits the total volume of blood able to pass easily through the body and is mostly due to diet with a bit of genetics thrown in. One in four American women die from heart disease, with the majority of those diseases being CAD. Holter monitoring from ReactDx will determine if your heart is functioning properly, regardless of your age. Below are some factors women experience that can possibly lead to heart disease.
Menopause: During menopause, the female body decreases estrogen levels, which regulates blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This causes hypertension and a rise in “bad” cholesterol levels. The decade after the beginning of menopause brings more cases of CAD due to lower estrogen levels. Hormone replacement therapy is not the answer, however. Hormone replacement therapy has not been correlated with lower levels of CAD; in fact, the increase in blood clots and some forms of cancers are directly tied to hormone replacement therapy, which has changed the guidelines significantly. Most doctors only recommend short-term doses – a few months, usually – of hormone replacement drugs.
Before menopause is reached, women should diminish their other risk factors. In other words, stop smoking, eat healthier, exercise more, and reduce stress levels.
Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, but most people don’t gain weight because of the amount of calories or fat they consume. Instead, the main culprit of weight gain today is the fad diets that recommend a low amount of fat and a high amount of carbohydrates. When processed carbohydrates, such as white rice or pasta, are eaten, elevated blood sugar levels drop much more rapidly than when whole grains are eaten. This quick fix meal often leads to increased hunger within a few hours.
Sedentary lifestyles, such as sitting at a computer all day at home or at work, are now being called “the new smoking” because they sabotage our health. The recent increase of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes is likely due to not moving around enough during the day. To counter this trend, walk at least 20 minutes a day in a park, on a treadmill, or around the block at a minimum. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, ride your bike through the neighborhood, or garden for a quick energy boost. Better yet, choose an exercise plan where interval training is involved. The constant stop-and-go motions that are key to interval training will keep your muscles guessing and burn fat more rapidly.
The symptoms of a heart attack are generally different in women than they are in men. If you feel nauseous, have discomfort in the chest, or simply feel “wrong,” see a doctor as soon as possible. If you can tell you are experiencing heart palpitations while you are walking or exercising, ask your doctor for a Holter monitoring device. Contact ReactDx at 800-234-3278 (800-23-HEART) for information on our wide range of portable cardiac monitoring devices, and read our blogs for the latest on heart health, exercise, dieting, and other topics that will keep your heart happy.