Alarming report: Half of women over 20 have heart disease

🔑 Key Findings:

  • 45% of women older than 20 are reportedly living with heart disease
  • Women make up half of high blood pressure-related deaths
  • Women were found to be underrepresented in heart disease research and clinical trials

DALLAS — There’s a dire new warning for women when it comes to heart health. A groundbreaking collection of studies reveals that nearly half of women over the age of 20 have heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for women, surpassing all forms of cancer combined. Alarmingly, nearly 45 percent of women 20 and older are living with the disease, and the health of women entering pregnancy in the U.S. is notably concerning, with less than half possessing good heart health, according to new findings from the American Heart Association.

Furthermore, women bear the brunt of high blood pressure fatalities, representing more than half of such deaths. Despite these staggering figures, women are significantly underrepresented in cardiovascular disease clinical trials, making up only 38 percent of participants.

The issue features a variety of studies that offer new insights into women’s cardiovascular health. For instance, the research highlights the impact of diet on the elevated risk of preeclampsia in pregnant Hispanic/Latina women. Another study reveals that women are less likely than men to receive bystander CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) treatment after out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, and they have lower survival rates in the first 30 days post-hospitalization.

Additionally, study authors noted differences in rehospitalization rates between women with heart failure and obstructive sleep apnea were noted. Intriguingly, while women have a lower incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage (a type of stroke), they are more likely to die within a year after experiencing one compared to men.

Woman Holding Hands on Her Chest
The study finds women bear the brunt of high blood pressure fatalities, representing more than half of such deaths. (Photo by Puwadon Sang-ngern from Pexels)

One of the highlighted studies from the new report, conducted by Dr. Steve Nguyen and colleagues from the University of California-San Diego, focused on the sedentary behaviors of nearly 6,000 older women. The findings were concerning: those who spent more than 11.6 hours sitting each day were at a significantly higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all causes compared to those who sat less. This underscores the importance of reducing sedentary time for women’s longevity and heart health.

Another study, led by Dr. Hidehiro Kaneko from the University of Tokyo, examined the link between schizophrenia, a severe mental health condition, and cardiovascular disease. The research found that schizophrenia significantly elevates the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, particularly in women. This could be due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause, or the fact that women with schizophrenia may lead more sedentary lifestyles. The study calls for health care providers to incorporate cardiovascular disease prevention into the care plans of people with schizophrenia, with a special focus on women.

Additionally, a study involving a group of predominantly low-income, pregnant Hispanic/Latina women in Los Angeles revealed that diets high in solid fats, refined grains, and cheese were strongly associated with a higher likelihood of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy, including preeclampsia. This highlights the critical role of diet in managing pregnancy-related health risks.

Study authors say the insights from this report underscore the need for gender-specific research and health care approaches to address the unique cardiovascular challenges women face. They add that it also serves as a call to action for increased representation of women in clinical trials and for healthcare professionals to adopt more personalized strategies for preventing and treating heart disease in women.

The findings are published in a special issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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  1. >> Half of women over 20 have heart disease

    That really says nothing, and is completely misleading.

    It could be that all the women with heart disease are over 60 for all that tells us.

    Or all women over 80? What is the point of this article? To point out that our
    American lifestyle is unhealthy and hitting people at younger ages because it
    is so bad? Then say that.

    Or they could say – half the women over 2 have heart disease. You cannot tell
    anything from this statement.

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