Women have the same risk factors as men do for heart disease. However, women may tend to ignore their symptoms. In particular, African American women need to pay attention to their risk factors. The risk for developing heart disease also increases once women reach the postmenopausal stage.
What women should know about heart disease? Dr. Amy Epps: You see a lot of publicity is a big push for awareness and that has helped considerably and the thing to know about women is they have the same risk factors as men do for heart disease. But except for the post menopausal, certainly men aren't post menopausal, or even if they might act it. But the women - once they are post menopausal their risk for heart disease goes up dramatically and it's very important to add that into your myths when you are looking at yourself and looking at your risk factors. If you are in that post menopausal stage that gives you an extra risk for heart disease. Probably the highest risk population in this country, for cardiac disease, particularly coronary disease are African-American women. So they really need to pay attention to their risk factors and if got any of those risk factors that I have mentioned high blood pressure, the cholesterol, family history, diabetes. They really need to make sure that they are in touch with their doctor and having very frequent physical exams to really stay on top of those risks. And one of the reasons why women are at higher risk are that they one; they may have in way typical symptom, so you sort of ignore, if it's not the classic chest pain you are not going to think that palpitations or funny feelings in the shoulder or feeling of nausea for unexplained are going to be your heart so you tend to ignore. The other thing is may be you are embarrassed or not wanting to bother your doctor by telling them these symptoms. Because you think they might say well, that's nothing that's not your heart, you know because they sounds very typical. So don't ignore the typical symptoms. And the other thing about women and heart disease it's very concerning are that if you have a heart attack you are more or likely to have problems or to die and not make it at the hospital from your heart attack. So heart disease affects women a lot more severely once you have it, so it's really important, especially for women to really know your risk, to pay more attention to yourself than you used to, and to push through without doctor if you are having funny symptoms and you think they are not listening to you, keep pushing it because I think it's really important to check yourself out.