Women post-menopause have risk for cardiovascular problems - what you need to know

Ladies, we know our bodies are always changing but those changes can raise our risk factors. There is recent evidence that women post-menopause may be at greater risk of cardiovascular issues.

All of this means ladies you need to now how to protect your heart and how to spot symptoms. 

"Women are the last on the list of people to take care of," said Dr. Sindhu Koshy. "It's the husband, maybe a parent, maybe kids to take care of (and they) are last on the list."

It's tough to convince women how serious the threat of heart disease is. It is the number one killer of American women and it can be sneaky.

"The whole thing about left arm pain and clutching your chest, yes, men come in with that," said Dr. Koshy. "Women rarely come in with that. Most women do say, back pain - right where their bra hooks up, or their bra feels too tight, those feel like normal things."

Ascension Providence Cardiologist Sindhu Koshy points out the movie-like dramatic chest-clutching heart attack is not usually how it plays out in real life.

"The symptoms so subtle for women, so it is a little shortness of breath, maybe I'm a bit more tired today, jaw pain, neck pain," she said. "Lots of women go to the dentist first because they thought it was their tooth - but it was really a heart attack.

"But, chest pain for women is pretty rare, it is only 50 percent of women so it's a flip of a coin, if you are actually going to have chest pain." 

Recently at the American College of Cardiology Conference, scientists presented findings showing that as estrogen drops in women during menopause, the risk of cardiovascular disease goes up.

Estrogen can keep bad cholesterol in check and has other heart health benefits. That's why it's important, if you notice anything is off, get checked out. 

"We always say if it's not typical for you as a woman, you need to get checked out," said Dr. Koshy. "The easiest thing is to come in, get checked out and we say, never mind - it wasn't your heart. The worst is you don't get it checked and then suddenly we're in trouble because now you're in heart failure because there is permanent damage."

Women, we need to take charge of heart health but protecting your heart as much as you can. That means, watching what you eat, quitting smoking, and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers in a good range.

Dr. Sindhu Koshy

Dr. Sindhu Koshy