It’s hard to believe that a woman dies every 80 seconds from a heart attack or stroke and that more than two-thirds won’t feel a single symptom. If there’s a take-home message, it’s that 80 percent of the causes of heart disease can be prevented.
Since “a woman is not a small man,” as Dr. Nanette Wenger – a leading cardiologist in women and heart disease – suggests, we need to look at the less traditional and natural hormonal cycles affecting women that increase their risk.
Pregnancy is the first “stress test” a woman experiences. Pregnancy complications such as hypertension of pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), preterm labor, a small-for-gestational-age baby and gestational diabetes can uncover early predictions of cardiovascular risk. Once the pregnancy is over, the disease of the blood vessels continues after pregnancy, so these complications and concerns persist. A detailed pregnancy history is important in accessing your risk of cardiac disease and must be conveyed to your health care providers to monitor these risks.