A Woman's Risk for Heart Disease is Different: Here's What You Need to Know

You've likely seen headlines or heard statistics – heart disease is a big issue in the United States for both men and women alike, causing one out of every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the development of heart disease and its risk factors can vary by gender. Here's what you need to know about the risk factors unique to women:

  1. Your Hormones Could Be Affecting You
    Estrogen, the hormone responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system, has some interesting positive effects on the heart and blood vessels. Estrogen helps keep blood vessels flexible, which promotes good blood flow. It also helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and soaks up particles in the blood that can damage arteries and other tissues. However, as women mature, their estrogen levels decrease, especially during menopause. After menopause, blood pressure, iron levels and "bad" cholesterol (LDL) levels can increase, and cardiovascular disease risk follows suit. Similarly, the risk of heart disease increases for those with hormone disorders, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which are heart disease risks.
  2. Pregnancy Complications May Be a Sign of Future Heart Problems
    If you experienced pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you could be at increased risk for heart disease as these conditions can increase the occurrence of other heart disease risk factors. Women who have preeclampsia or hypertension during pregnancy are at a much higher risk of developing high blood pressure or suffering from a stroke as they age, and women who had gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  3. The Effects of Smoking Can Be Worse For Women
    While you may be aware of smoking's many harmful long-term implications, you may not be aware that the consequences for women can be much worse. In general, smoking causes blood to thicken, increasing the risk of blood clots and damage to blood vessel walls. Female smokers' risk of suffering a heart attack is twice that of men who light up. While it's unclear why women are affected more, the good news is that heart attack risk drops dramatically within the first year a person quits smoking.

It might seem like the deck is stacked against you when it comes to your heart's future, but in fact, you hold the trump card — knowledge. Knowing your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index can reveal a lot about the health of your heart and the risk factors you may be able to reduce by exercising regularly and eating a heart-healthy diet. Interested in learning more about the risk factors that might be putting you at risk for heart disease? Take our free heart health assessment to receive a personalized analysis of your heart disease risk.

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Why Choose Us?

We know it can be concerning to suspect you may have a heart issue, especially if your symptoms don't immediately point to an obvious diagnosis. At Laredo Medical Center, we get to the heart of the matter by providing a wide spectrum of cardiac services from screening and evaluation to helping you maintain a more heart-healthy lifestyle and improve your overall health. The heart and vascular team is comprised of multi-specialty cardiac professionals from diverse backgrounds who are dedicated to providing the highest quality of cardiac care in Laredo, Texas, with more than 60 years of experience.

As a Primary Stroke Center and an Accredited Chest Pain Center, we use established best practices in heart care to help our patients receive accurate diagnoses. Our diagnostic and imaging capabilities help us to identify heart disease early, when it's most treatable. And, in the event that critical heart care is needed, our approach focuses on providing timely care to minimize heart damage and reduce the disruption to your life, all while helping you understand how best to implement a treatment plan that meets your specific heart care needs.

In addition, our facilities include interventional cardiology suites with updated technology to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of patient conditions, including procedures for diagnostic catheterizations, stenting and balloon angioplasty. These suites allow us to offer electrophysiology services for the treatment of arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation (AFib).

About Our Services

The cardiac team at Laredo Medical Center offers a range of services including:

  • Cardiac screening and evaluation testing: cardiac stress test, dobutamine stress testing and echocardiogram
  • 24- and 48-hour heart monitoring/electrocardiogram
  • Arterial blood gas (ABG) testing
  • Cardiac catheterization labs
  • Electrophysiology studies
  • Specialized treatment for heart rhythm disorders, such as AFib, including cardioversions
  • Pulmonary function testing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management and asthma management
  • Cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgery
  • Education and exercise-based heart and vascular rehabilitation

Laredo Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center and an Accredited Chest Pain Center v6 with Primary PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Interventions), accredited by the American College of Cardiology.

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