Log in


Sadeghinia: Women’s heart health shouldn’t be overlooked


An estimated one in four female deaths is caused by heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

It’s important for women to be aware of the risk factors, signs and symptoms of heart disease.

Although typical symptoms in men can be a combination of chest discomfort (chest pain, pressure, tightness or heaviness), shortness of breath, with dizziness, nausea or vomiting, in women it can vary, explained Abrazo Health Cardiologist Dr. Sharon Sadeghinia.

“Women present with any combination of shortness of breath, tiredness, pain in neck, jaw, throat, upper back pain with or without activities,” Dr. Sadeghinia said.

She explained that “heart disease" is an umbrella term which includes many different conditions:

• Coronary artery disease: This is the most common type of heart disease in United States and leading to what is known as “heart attack.” The heart is a pump and has its own blood supply which are called coronary arteries. Coronary artery disease is when these vessels are clogged with cholesterol plaque interfering with the flow of blood.

• Arrhythmia: This is when electrical activities of the heart are interfered with. Some examples are atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter which is characterized by irregular heartbeat.

• Heart valve disease: Some of the most common form of valve disease are mitral valve or aortic valve stenosis, or what is called a leaky valve.

• Congestive heart failure: This refers to when the muscles of the heart become weak or have “pump failure.”

The traditional risk factors for heart disease are family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and obesity. These affect women and men equally, Dr. Sadeghinia said.

“Age is a risk factor for women – the older you are, the higher risk of heart disease. Women in general developed coronary artery disease 10 years later in life than men unless they have diabetes,” she said.

Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s. Depression makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment. Low levels of estrogen after menopause pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the smaller blood vessels.

Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease, noted Dr. Sadeghinia.

“You cannot change aging or family history, so focus on what you can change. These steps include getting more exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week such as 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking per day),” she said.

She advises stay away from “white foods” like white sugar, flour, rice, bread, pasta (carbohydrate/starch). No soda, not even diet. Use portion control with your meals and eat more vegetables and greens. Stop smoking, reduce your stress level and limit your alcohol consumption.

“You know yourself better than anyone else. If you feel something is wrong, do not ignore it and hope it would go away. Talk to your doctor,” Dr. Sadeghinia said.

For more information on heart disease, online health risk assessments or to find a doctor, visit

This article was submitted by  Abrazo Health Care.