Women’s Hearts

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Heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australian women. Women are almost three times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer.

Younger women (25-45 years) are still at risk

Risk factors common to all women of all ages;

•    High cholesterol
•    High blood pressure
•    Overweight and obesity
•    Physical inactivity
•    Smoking
•    Diabetes and depression

Know more about the risk factors.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body. A woman’s blood volume increases by 30-50% over the course of her pregnancy. Labour and delivery exact a further toll on the body producing abrupt changes in blood flow and pressure, forcing the heart to work harder.

Most women will have a perfectly normal pregnancy, but a small number will have some sort of complication that may increase their blood pressure or their blood sugar levels. These complications can include;

•    High blood pressure 
•    Pre-eclampsia
•    Gestational diabetes 

Pregnancy and Pre-existing Heart Conditions

If you have a heart condition, it’s important to plan your pregnancy by talking to your doctor and health care team first. The increased cardiac demands during pregnancy are such that assessment by a cardiologist (before becoming pregnant) is recommended for all women with a pre-existing heart condition.

Oral Contraception

The use of oral contraception is generally safe, however, the contraceptive pill can slightly increase your risk of blood clotting problems and can increase your risk to deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack?

Heart attacks are not always what you think. Up to 40% of women will not experience chest pain. Make sure you know the full range of heart attack warning signs.

Have a heart health check

A heart health check can be done as part of a normal check up with your doctor or health practitioner. This will involve:

•    Talking about your family history of heart disease
•    Taking your blood pressure
•    Taking a blood sample to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels
•    Checking your weight
•    Talking about your lifestyle – what you eat, how active you are, alcohol and tobacco use and your overall mental health and wellbeing.

What is a heart health check? (video)