Women and Heart Disease: Key Facts You Need to Know
Experts share information about symptoms and risks that even the most health-savvy people may not know.
The WebMD Women's Heart Health Quiz continued...
"What I find is that symptoms from the heart can also give you clues to
other conditions, particularly when it comes to palpitations, or skipped or
fluttering heartbeats. The problem could be linked to an overactive thyroid, to
hormonal changes in menopause, to signs that you are experiencing increased
stress, or that you're overcaffeinated. It may not be heart disease, but
looking into the health of your heart may help you find and solve other
problems that are causing your heart symptoms," says Goldberg.
6. True or False: A hot flash is always a sign of menopause and never the
sign of a heart problem.
Answer: False. While hot flashes are most often associated with --
and caused by -- the hormone changes of perimenopause and menopause, they can
also be a symptom of certain cardiac conditions.
"It depends on how and when they occur. If you get hot flashes when
you're just sitting around watching television or talking on the phone, then
it's probably hormonal. If you only get them when you exert yourself, then it
could be a symptom of angina," says Shin. Angina is a
heart-muscle-related problem that is a form of heart disease.
When should you see a doctor? Shin tells WebMD: "Anytime a symptom
is really bothering you. But more important is how your symptom fits within the
picture of your overall health screenings and risk factors for heart disease,
including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family
history of heart disease."
7. True or False: To prevent heart disease all women should take one baby
aspirin a day.
Answer: False. Not all women need -- or will benefit from -- daily
aspirin use, says Woynarowski.
While studies show that aspirin's anti-inflammatory effects can help prevent
heart attacks in those with a history of heart disease, regular use of
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- including aspirin -- has also been
shown to dramatically increase the risk of both gastrointestinal and brain
bleeding. For women who have no risk factors for heart disease, Woynarowski
says the risks of a daily aspirin far outweigh the heart-health benefits.
"If you have no personal risks factors for heart disease, if you have no
strong family history of heart disease, then you should not be taking aspirin
every day," he says
8. True or False: Smoking increases your risk of a heart
Answer: True. According to the AHA, on average, women who smoke
have heart attacks 19 years earlier than nonsmokers. "Smoking is a major
cause of heart disease and stopping, at any age, will help reduce those
risks," says Shin.