Heart Attack

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart

muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart is deprived of oxygen. If blood flow

is not restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die. Heart attacks are a

leading killer of both men and women in the United States.

Women tend to be older than men by about 10 years when they receive a

diagnosis of heart disease, which is likely related to the female hormone estrogen,

which plays a positive role in maintaining the body’s levels of “good” HDL

cholesterol that is known to protect heart health. Estrogen also plays a number of

other roles in heart health, such as helping to maintain normal blood pressure and

prevent some blood vessel damage.

After menopause, however, when estrogen levels decline, the rate of heart

disease-related deaths among women steadily increases, because of the withdrawal

of the natural estrogen that occurs in menopause. The lowering of the "good

cholesterol" and an increase in the "bad cholesterol" increases the risk of heart

Researchers have looked at how hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

may affect women’s cardiovascular health. “In the Heart and Estrogen/progestin

Replacement Study (HERS), doctors found that postmenopausal women with heart

disease who were given estrogen and progestin actually had more heart attacks and

heart disease deaths. After HERS and other trials, the American Heart Association

(AHA) recommended against the use of HRT in women with known heart disease.

“In 2002, one phase of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial showed that

healthy postmenopausal women who were taking the combination hormone

treatment of estrogen plus progestin were not protected from heart disease.” AHA

does not advise women to take HRT as a deterrent for coronary heart disease.

Being aware of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and making...

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