Women’s heart disease is the number one killer of all women. It may present differently in a woman that a man. Symptoms are often more difficult to detect. Men often experience a crushing chest pain, with pressure on the chest, whereas women can have an array of symptoms, from chest discomfort, to nausea, back pain, jaw pain, fatigue, or even shortness of breath. The arteries of women are also different, with plaque developing diffusely throughout the arteries and men often getting discrete areas of disease. This simply makes heart disease more difficult to diagnose in women. When stress testing is “normal”, sometimes it is important to keep looking and investigating, because these “false negatives” are tests that are really abnormal, but the testing modality might actually be the wrong one to find the problem.
Menopause and peri-menopause bring other issues to women’s health. Often times palpitations develop as a result of fluctuating hormones. Other symptoms may also develop. Just as if we train for a marathon, sometimes it is best to “train” for menopause, and the earlier we can start, the better.