Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women

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What women don’t know about heart disease can have life-threatening consequences. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women. The May issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource tracks trends in women’s heart disease.

In the last 40 years, there has been a big decline in the number of deaths related to heart disease for men and women. But the decline for men and women hasn’t been equal. Especially in the last decade, the decline in deaths from heart disease is slower for women than men. And incidence of heart attacks is increasing slightly in women, while it’s decreasing in men. Why the differences?

One culprit could be obesity. The prevalence of obesity among women, particularly among black and Hispanic women, is staggering and could explain at least in part the difference in heart disease trends between the sexes.

Another concern is lack of lack of awareness among women and care providers. Surveys show that women are far more concerned about breast cancer than heart disease. Women’s lack of knowledge about heart disease, combined with subtle but definite differences in symptoms from men, may lead women to neglect or delay seeking medical attention when needed.

When women do seek care, they must rely on doctors to recognize that symptoms are heart-related. Doctors are becoming more aware of heart disease in women and the need to understand the implications of any chest discomfort and unusual symptoms. http://www.mayo.edu

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