When & Why Women Need Heart Health Screenings

woman holding heart

Taking care of our health is important for everyone, regardless of age or gender. Still, there are unique challenges that must be addressed with age, and there are even more specific concerns facing women. Not only must a woman consider additional factors such as reproductive health, cardiovascular health is another matter of particular importance. This is especially true as women age.

Impact of Heart Disease on Women

Between the ages of 45 and 64, one in nine women develop symptoms of some form of cardiovascular disease. After age 65, that ratio climbs to one in three women, and in total, one in five deaths among women can be attributed to heart disease.

Tests to Protect Women's Heart Health

Generally speaking, women under the age of 40 should be screened every 3 to 5 years for signs of heart disease, with earlier or more aggressive screening being done based on risk factors. By the age of 40, all women should undergo routine screenings, even in the absence of traditional risk factors or family history. Tests that may be used include:

  • Blood Pressure & Cholesterol - Uncontrolled blood pressure and cholesterol are among the most common cardiovascular concerns facing both women and men. These conditions can lead to damaged and weakened blood vessels in which plaque can build.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) - An EKG is a specific type of test used to measure the electrical activity of the heart. As electrodes attached to the chest and limbs record electrical impulses, the results are visually represented in a line of spikes and dips for each beat of the heart. By studying these results, a cardiologist can help determine if a patient's heart is receiving enough oxygen or is experiencing an arrhythmia.
  • Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) - Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a serious condition which most often originates in the lower legs and greatly increases a patient's risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. While the condition may easily go unnoticed for an extended period of time due to lack of symptoms, there is, fortunately, a simple test available to detect its presence. An ABI is as simple as taking your blood pressure. Only in this case, pressure is also measured at the ankles to gauge blood flow in the legs.
  • Carotid Ultrasound - A carotid ultrasound is a simple and painless ultrasound procedure used to observe blood flow in the carotid arteries, located in the neck. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain and are where many blockages leading to stroke occur. These tests are typically performed on patients when a blockage is suspected or who are deemed at high-risk for stroke.

Women's Heart Care in Louisiana

For decades, Cardiovascular Institute of the South has been dedicated to protecting the heart health of Louisiana residents. Today, this emphasis can be seen in our many clinics and programs such as the CIS Women's Program. Not only does the CIS team of cardiologists include many female physicians who uniquely understand the challenges facing women's health, it also represents our commitment to educating women regarding their heart health and to providing the highest levels of cardiovascular care. To learn more about our program or to request an appointment, click the button below.

CIS Women's Program

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff