We commonly know that smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, excess cholesterol, and poor fitness create higher likelihood for heart disease. They wear down the body and that wear often expresses as heart disease. Over previous generations, many believed these health problems occurred much more often in men than women, making men more hard-wired for heart disease.
But recent heart research has proven otherwise. Ugh!
A September 2015 Medscape article reported surprising current findings. Smoking and other common risk factors have a great effect on women. It gave examples: smoking one pack of cigarettes each day causes greater risk for heart disease for women than men. And diabetes increases women’s heart disease risk similarly.
It mentioned several conditions specific to women also associated with risk for cardiovascular disease. They include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Other conditions that occur more often in women—rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and breast cancer—also increase cardiac risk. These medical challenges can hurt women’s hearts more than they hurt men’s hearts.
Interestingly, the article mentioned the importance of including more women in research studies and clinical trials. It’s hard to think of good reason for not including as many women as men in these important endeavors. It also advocated for more women cardiologists. And it emphasized that heart disease is still the leading cause of disease-related death in women.
Throughout history, we have striven for equality with men. Now we have more than equality in some cardiac risk factors, which can make us more vulnerable to heart disease. What do you think about this surprising news?