Different Types of Heart Disease in Women

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the UK, and there are currently more than 3.6 million women in the UK living with heart disease. Coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer, and each year, more than 30,000 women in the UK are admitted to hospital due to a heart attack.

Heart disease refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. While the types of heart disease are generally similar in both men and women, there are certain conditions and risk factors that may be more prevalent or have unique characteristics in women. Here are some of the different types of heart disease that affect women in the UK:

  1. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): This is the most common type of heart disease in both men and women. CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of plaque. Women may experience CAD differently than men, with symptoms such as chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, fatigue, and nausea.
  2. Microvascular Disease: Also known as small vessel disease, this condition affects the tiny blood vessels in the heart. It is more common in women, and the symptoms can be different from those of CAD. Women with microvascular disease may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and sleep problems.
  3. Heart Attack: A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart muscle is blocked, usually due to a blood clot. While heart attacks can affect both men and women, women may experience different symptoms. Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain, and extreme fatigue, rather than the classic chest pain often associated with heart attacks in men.

  1. Heart Failure: Heart failure happens when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It can be caused by various underlying conditions such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or heart valve problems. Women tend to develop heart failure later in life than men, and they may have different symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty breathing, fluid retention (swelling in the legs, ankles, or abdomen), and reduced exercise tolerance.
  2. Arrhythmias: Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Some arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, may be more prevalent in women. Symptoms can include palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest discomfort.

It’s important to note that while these types of heart disease are more commonly associated with women, they can affect individuals of any gender. Additionally, risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and a family history of heart disease apply to both men and women. If you have concerns about heart disease or any specific symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and guidance.