Heart & Vascular Specialists of Oklahoma
Rakesh Shrivastava MD, FACC • Venkat Rajaram MD, MS
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In the US, one in four women will die from heart disease. In fact, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the #1 killer among both men and women in the US. Women, however, have special risks and conditions that mainly affect the female population. It is not really understood why, but certain heart diseases such as cornonary microvascular disease and broken heart syndrome (where extreme stress can cause heart muscle failure) pose a greater risk for women than men. Continued research in the area of female heart diseases will provide new and advanced treatments down the road. 

Female CHD Prognosis
Women tend to have CHD about 10 years later than men. However, CHD remains the #1 killer of women in the United States.The good news is that you can control many CHD risk factors. CHD risk factors are conditions or habits that raise your risk for CHD and heart attack. These risk factors also can increase the chance that existing CHD will worsen.  Lifestyle changes, medicines, and medical or surgical procedures can help women lower their risk for CHD. Early and ongoing CHD prevention is important.

Pregnancy & CHD
Many women who are diagnosed with CHD are not willing to put their life on hold in order to surrender to their heart condition, so it is not unusual for an adult women with heart disease to pursue pregnancy. Women do have to be careful and work with their cardiologist to ensure adequate care. Pregnancy changes the way the body circulates blood, including a 40% increase in plasma volume and cardiac output. There are also circulatory and vascular changes. Because these changes can lead to irregular coagulation, it is important to closely monitory women with CHD to avoid complications such as heart failure, arrhythmias and thrombosis.

During and after childbirth can be a particularly troublesome event for women with CHD. There is more cardiac demand during and after delivery due to the contracting uterus, anxiety, pushing and post delivery. Blood loss can also make the heart work harder.  Adequate pregnancy management with your doctor is essential in having well organized care during pregnancy and postpartum.