Women already face a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than men, which is the most common form of heart disease. This condition arises when one of the heart’s crucial arteries hardens up and gets blocked with plaque. This is extremely common and occurs frequently in both men and women. However, there’s another disease that also threatens women’s hearts. Often considered a silent killer, silent cardiac ischemia may not be detected by normal heart disease tests. This can make it an extremely damaging disease.
One trial, known as the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation, has been underway for some time now, trying to determine just how often this heart disease goes undetected in women. According to preliminary results, even women who pass the normal heart tests (angiograms, etc.) could still suffer a heart attack and may even be at risk of dying just four or five years after their tests. That’s because many of the typical tests do not pick up on the narrowing of arteries that occurs in this condition.
Researchers found that it took the use of sophisticated tests such as ultrasounds to detect the abnormalities in women. Problems were clear after these tests were completed. This was evident even when the previous tests had shown no signs of heart disease. One key factor for determining heart disease risk may be C-reactive protein. This in an inflammation marker that isn’t typically tested for but that has proven to be a clear sign of heart disease risk.
One major problem with detecting this form of heart disease is that the symptoms differ greatly from those normally seen in coronary artery disease. For instance, women will often complain of shoulder or jaw pain, fatigue, and nausea, which are all vastly different from the crushing chest pain that is normally felt in heart disease.
The symptoms may differ but the risks are the same. Blood flow is still being seriously reduced and this could lead to serious cardiac events and even death. If you have the above mentioned symptoms, or know you are at risk for heart disease, then make sure you get thoroughly checked.