Breast Cancer Not Top Health Threat for Women
A recent survey of more than 1,000 women between 25 and 60 years of age by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that only around half of the respondents interviewed were aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Instead, many believed that breast cancer posed a greater risk than cardiovascular illness.
The fact is that while around 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the United States every year, close to 400,000 die from heart disease.
There are a few reasons why women are misdiagnosed for heart disease, or not diagnosed at all. One reason, of course, is that most heart disease research has long been focused on men. The second reason is that heart disease manifests in women in different way than it does in men. For example, men often face blockages in major arteries, which are relatively easy to see during various screening procedures. But women are more likely to have problems in very small arteries in the heart -- arteries so small "they don't have enough of a wall to build up plaque," according Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, who directs the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai. These arteries, while miniscule, can become inflexible, and can cut off the flow of blood to the heart.