Heart disease in women and men can be a serious cause for concern. In fact in some cases, it can go from a serious complication to fatality within a matter of months. That’s why it is important to take every precaution necessary to reduce the risk factors.
In a new study by the European Society of Cardiology, researchers are raising the importance of early intervention. They are especially voicing concern about women as the study has made a startling discovery.
According to the study, women who experience pregnancy complications and early menopause were at higher risk of developing heart disease.
Hypertension Symptoms Are Often Mistaken For Menopause
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Research shows that up to 50 percent of women develop high blood pressure before the age of 60. But the symptoms they experience are often mistaken for menopause.
Symptoms such as hot flushes and palpitations in women are often attributed to menopause, instead of factors of hypertension.
While high blood pressure in men is directly called hypertension. High blood pressure in women, on the other hand, is mistakenly labelled as just ‘stress’ or ‘menopausal symptoms’ according to Professor Angela Maas, director of the Women’s Cardiac Health Programme, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
“We know that blood pressure is treated less well in women compared to men, putting them at risk for atrial fibrillation, heart failure and stroke – which could have been avoided,” said first author Professor Maas in a press release on 27 January, 2021.
Heart Disease In Women Can Be Controlled: Importance of Early Intervention
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In light of this, the need for intensifying the detection of hypertension in middle-aged women has been raised. Professor Maas pointed at clues in a woman’s life. She added that these clues show just how much women need to start early with prevention.
“We have to assess female patients differently to men, and not just ask about high cholesterol. This will enable us to classify middle-aged women as high-risk or lower risk for cardiovascular disease,” she added.
It was also mentioned that there are several phases in life where it can identify subgroups of high-risk women.
With this, Professor Maas said, “High blood pressure during pregnancy is a warning sign that hypertension may develop when a woman enters menopause and it is associated with dementia many decades later. If blood pressure is not addressed when women are in their 40s or 50s, they will have problems in their 70s when hypertension is more difficult to treat.”
Women who experience preeclampsia were also said to be linked with a four-fold increase in heart failure and hypertension as well as a doubled risk of stroke.
Women who have early natural menopause before the age of 40 were also likely develop cardiovascular disease. This is associated with a three percent risk increase each year.
In comparison to men, autoimmune inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus were more common in women. These also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease around menopause.
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Heart Disease in Women: How You Can Manage Your Heart Health
Researchers included guidance and advice in the study to inform women how they can start managing their heart. They shared details on risk reduction during menopause, after pregnancy complications ,as well as during other critical conditions including breast cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
One of the suggested method is the importance of adapting to a healthy lifestyle and diet. This can help optimal management of menopausal health. It also benefits women with PCOS, since they are at a high risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy as well as type-2 diabetes.
Researchers also advised an assessment of cardiovascular risk factors first before menopausal hormone therapy. So keep an eye out for any heart-related issues, hypertension, even blot clots.
Cardiologists, gynaecologists and endocrinologists will hopefully also collaborate to provide the best healthcare for women.
“Women can help their doctors prevent heart problems and make earlier diagnoses by mentioning issues like complicated pregnancies and early menopause and monitoring their own blood pressure,” added Professor Maas.