Janelle has felt the impact of cardiovascular disease first hand.
Janelle, a supporter of HRI, lost her mother to a heart attack in 2003.
Her mother had suffered from severe headaches over a period of time, however “no-one ever gave much thought to the possibility that her heart was the problem as she didn’t fit the stereotype for heart disease. She was slimly built and had a low level of ‘the bad’ cholesterol. No-one considered it may have been an anomaly in blood flow to her head that was causing her headaches.”
Knowing the risk factors
Most Canadian women have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Women who have diabetes, come from certain ethnic backgrounds or are menopausal are even more at risk.
When women reach menopause, their risk of developing heart disease increases. It has been suspected that this increased risk is possibly related to a drop in the hormone estrogen that happens in women at menopause.
Other risk factors include high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, being overweight, family history, race and social and economic factors.
Heart attack in women
Symptoms and signs
When a heart attack strikes, it doesn’t always feel the same in women as in men. Women don't always get the same “classic” heart attack symptoms such as crushing chest pain that radiates down one arm. Those heart attack symptoms can certainly happen to women, but many experience “silent” symptoms that they may miss.
These symptoms are common in women:
Chest pain or discomfort
Pain in your arms, back, neck, or jaw
Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness.
How our research is saving lives
Our Vascular Immunology Group has discovered that the severity of high blood pressure or hypertension in expectant mothers - preeclampsia - impacts on high blood pressure later in life. These findings will allow women to better manage their risk of circulation and heart problems in future.