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Heart Failure Symptoms and Causes Differ in Women, Resulting in More Deaths, According to Study

Women have different types of heart failure than men

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Heart failure is a common condition affecting approximately 5.7 million people in the U.S. and has no cure — although with proper treatment, those affected can live longer and healthier lives. However, a study from earlier this year completed by researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway found that the reason why more women die of heart failure than men is because of insufficient treatment.

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Not only are heart attack symptoms different in women than in men, but the overall causes of heart failure differ as well. While heart attacks are a common cause of heart failure, they are the cause for only about half of afflicted women, according to the University of Bergen study.

The other approximately 50% of women have heart failure induced by high blood pressure, or hypertension, which is often left untreated over time. Hypertension causes the heart to have to work harder to pump blood through the body, resulting in the heart muscle stiffening or weakening. This affects the heart’s ability to effectively circulate blood — and the type of heart failure this causes has yet to have an effective treatment developed.

Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death and leads to a reduced quality of life in women. The authors of the study concluded that the healthcare industry needs to work harder to find a solution to the issue.

In addition to a history of heart attack and high blood pressure, other risk factors of heart failure include congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, diabetes, irregular heartbeats, obesity, sleep apnea, tobacco or alcohol use, valvular heart disease, viruses and taking certain medications. Aging is also a risk factor, and people age 65 and older are also more likely to suffer from heart failure.

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If you’re showing any signs of an unhealthy heart or otherwise concerned about your heart health, speak to your doctor. Make sure to ask all the right questions as well as assert yourself and stay up to date on everything they need to know about your health after the age of 40.