Cardiovascular DiseaseCardiovascular disease (including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure) kills more women annually than all forms of cancer combined. Contrary to the myth, cardiovascular disease actually kills more women than men each year. According to The World Health Report of 2004, every year, more women than men die of CVD and that CVD leads to more deaths in women than cancer, HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined. CVD is the largest cause of death in women and the risk for CVD rises with age (WHO, 2004). Although more women than men die from cardiovascular disease, virtually all randomized controlled trials on risk and treatment have focused on men.
Heart disease in women often goes undetected and untreated until the disease has become severe. As a result, women who have heart attacks die within one year compared to men. Estrogen plays an important role in preventing heart disease. It helps to keep your tissues elastic, which prevents hardening of the arteries. It also helps to keep your cholesterol down. When the protective levels of estrogen go down after menopause, a women’s risk of heart disease goes up, equaling a man’s risk after several years.
Women who are at higher risk for heart disease and heart attack have the following characteristics. they are older, have a family history of heart disease or heart attack, particularly a relative with a heart attack or stroke before age 60, are black, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, have poorly controlled diabetes, do not exercise, have high stress, are overweight, smoke cigarettes, and drink more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day.