Heart disease is one of the major causes of death and disability for women. As it is a chronic condition, once it has developed, it will remain as a condition for our entire lives. In fact, if we do nothing, it will most probably worsen. However, we can tackle some of the risk factors by changing our lifestyle habits. We should, therefore, look out for ourselves by doing what is necessary to reduce risk factors.   

We must begin by understanding what is heart disease. The most common heart condition is Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), commonly referred to as “heart disease”. CHD occurs when the heart arteries narrow and the blood cannot easily flow through them. Arteries may narrow because of plaque sediments sticking on their walls or by the forming of blood clots, which can ultimately bring the flow to a halt. When this happens, a heart attack or a stroke may occur.

However, the most common heart disease in women is Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD), where the tiny arteries of the heart have been damaged. Some researchers consider this to be caused by typical risk factors boosted by a fall in the level of estrogens during menopause.  Other forms of heart disease include heart failure (irregular pumping or lacking oxygen), arrhythmia (irregular beating), or heart valve problems.

Causes for heart disease fall into two categories: those which can be changed and those which cannot. For women, major causes which cannot be changed are family history, age (being over 55), and preeclampsia (at pregnancy). Causes that can be changed or eliminated include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, sedentarism, unhealthy nutrition, and metabolic conditions. 

Women should also be careful of not minimizing symptoms or not wanting to cause trouble to others, a typical female trait. It is important to take the time to plan and follow a healthy plan, including stress management, even though it may seem that there are other priorities at hand. At the end of the day, the utmost priority should be to stay healthy and avoid unnecessary risks.