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Heart conditions in women
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Heart conditions in women

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions.

Key takeaways

  • Women are less likely to attend cardiac rehabilitation, less likely to take their medication regularly, and are less likely to make the lifestyle changes necessary for good health.
  • Heart health-related complications during pregnancy can include: high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes.
  • Complications during pregnancy can increase your risk of heart disease later in life. 
3 min read

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions, including: angina, heart attack, heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Other heart conditions include inherited heart conditions, or heart problems present at birth i.e. congenital heart disease.

Specific heart conditions that women are diagnosed with

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, or SCAD, is an example of a condition that occurs more frequently in women.

It occurs when a split suddenly develops between the inner layers of a coronary artery. Blood flows into this space and reduces the amount of blood flowing through the artery. The symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack or angina. Most of the people who suffer from SCAD have few or no known risk factors

Recognising the symptoms of a heart attack, and getting treatment as quickly as possible, is important for women of all ages.

Particular information women should be aware of

When it comes to heart health, research shows that many women often put the needs of others before themselves. Woman are less likely to attend cardiac rehabilitation, less likely to take their medication regularly, and are less likely to make the lifestyle changes necessary for good health.

Family, friends and your doctor all have an important role to play in supporting women who are living with heart disease.

Complications during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease later in life. If you experienced these, tell your healthcare professional so they can monitor your heart health. 

What happens if you're diagnosed with a heart condition

Women of any age may be diagnosed with a heart condition. What happens next can be dependent on the type of heart problem.

Many people who have been diagnosed with a heart condition go on to live long, full lives. However, it's important to make lifestyle changes to manage your heart health over the longer term.

If you have been discharged from hospital after a diagnosis or a procedure, the steps to recovery are likely to be: 
  • Regular check-ups with your doctor
  • Referral to a cardiac rehabilitation program 
  • Taking medication 
  • Making changes to your parts of your lifestyle like diet and exercise.

 

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