With heart disease being endemic in many western countries, we must know all we can about this killer disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 735,000 U.S. citizens suffer heart attacks each year. There is a lot of information out there already but what don’t we know about cardiovascular disease? Let’s take a look:

Little known fact number 1:

Cardiovascular disease can actually begin in utero. In 2005, The Lancet published a study by Dr Michael Skilton. In this study, it was found that some babies can have thickening of their aortic wall even in utero. This indicates that a person’s increased risk of cardiovascular disease can be present even before a baby is born.

Little known fact number 2:

Disc degeneration or back pain can actually be a sign of cardiovascular disease. Research published by Leena Kauppila, M.D., PhD in 2009 found that since atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries caused by plaque from high cholesterol) reduces the flow of blood around the body, it can contribute to back pain and back problems. This is because blood flow is restricted to lumbar arteries.

Little known fact number 3:

Blocked arteries can be cleared with a good diet. The data released by Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn has been a huge talking point. The topic of discussion is how a plant-based diet can treat coronary artery disease. The research showed that it is possible to treat – and clear – a blocked artery with a plant-based, low-fat diet. 

Women and heart disease: a talking point

It’s a fact that women experience cardiovascular disease differently from men. Let’s take a look at some facts around this topic.

Mortality

Heart disease is the number 1 killer for women in the whole world – in both developing and developed nations. Considering that women are a decade older than men on average when they get cardiovascular disease, this is a difficult thing to understand. 

Comparison with breast cancer

Breast cancer is a big killer for women but unlike this disease, cardiovascular disease strikes more frequently and kills quickly. Almost 50% of sudden deaths caused by heart attacks happen outside of a hospital and 39% of these deaths are women. In terms of numbers, 41,000 women die each year from breast cancer while 215,000 die from coronary heart disease.

Hormone replacement therapy

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and stroke. The older the woman, the more pronounced the treatment’s negative effects. 

Psychological factors

Risk factors for women include stress and depression. When compared to their male counterparts, women are more likely to have a heart attack due to emotional stress rather than due to physical exertion. 

Misinterpreting symptoms

Many women believe themselves to have indigestion, reflux, gas, or stomach flu. Many clinicians make these mistakes too. This means that lots of women delay treatment as they don’t realize their symptoms are serious.

Effective treatments

Treatment for men’s heart disease might not be the best choice for a woman. For example, symptomatic women are more likely to benefit from beta-blockers rather than calcium channel blockers than men are prescribed for their symptoms.

Awareness and heritage

Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, Hispanic and African American women’s awareness of heart disease risks has gone down over the last decade. In fact, only around a third of these women knew that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death. In 2009, around half of the people surveyed knew this. For white women, the figure is around 56%.

Other surprising things that can lead to heart disease

Traffic noise

According to WebMD, traffic noise of over 50 decibels can increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease. It’s thought that for each increase of 10 decibels thereafter, a person’s risk increases even further. Scientists believe this is linked to how the human body responds to stress.

Short height

Your risk of getting heart disease increases around 8% for every 2 and a half inches you are below average height. Apparently, shorter people typically have higher triglyceride and cholesterol levels. It’s a possibility that a person’s height is determined by something similar in the body that also deals with “bad” cholesterol.