Why women need to talk about their hearts
Here's why it's important to discuss your heart health with your doctor if you're a woman.
As a woman, you likely put your heart into everything you do – caring for your family, being there for your friends and giving it all at work and at home. But when it comes to caring for your own heart, you may think that's something you don't have to worry about. After all, isn't heart disease something that happens to older men?
You might be surprised to find out that heart disease is the leading cause of death in U.S. women. In fact, more women die each year of heart-related problems than all forms of cancer combined. But many women, as well as their doctors, don't recognize the dangers of cardiovascular disease. A survey of more than 1,000 women ages 25 to 60 revealed only 45% of women were aware heart disease is the leading killer of women.
Why is it so important that women and doctors recognize the significant risk women face when it comes to their hearts? Because about 80% of heart disease is preventable and nearly 75% of women have one or more heart disease risk factors. However, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, only 16% of women had been told they had a risk factor for heart disease.
Not only are women not being screened for cardiovascular disease, but there's also a sense of embarrassment in women as it relates to their heart health. The same study indicated 26% of women thought it would be embarrassing to have heart disease because people would assume they weren't taking care of their health by exercising or eating healthy. And 45% of women in the study said they had postponed or canceled a doctor's appointment because of their weight.
The lack of attention paid to the health of women's hearts, as well as the stigma associated with heart disease in women, needs to change. Since many primary care physicians still don't make cardiovascular health a top concern with their female patients, it may be up to you to start the conversation with your doctor about what you can do to protect or improve your heart health.