Chronic Stress Raises Heart Disease Risks in Women - Life Titan Research

Chronic Stress Raises Heart Disease Risks in Women

The heart disease risks in women are just as critical as those facing men.

However, this rising epidemic gets very little press coverage. Women who show up at their doctor’s office or their local hospital during a heart event are treated differently than their male counterparts.

It’s as if the medical community forgets that heart disease is the #1 killer of women – just as it is for men.  To be fair, many women don’t realize (or remember) this either.

Every single year since 1984, heart disease has claimed more female lives than male lives.  Every single year.  Men might get heart disease at younger ages but women are more likely to die from it.  Where’s the disconnect? What are we missing?

3 Reasons Heart Disease Risk in Women is Overlooked

  1. Perception:  Much of the problem is portrayal of heart disease. Since the media, television, films, and commercials almost universally depict men as the ones having heart attacks – it’s perceived to be a “man’s problem.” As a result of this massive push about the male heart, deaths of men by heart event have declined every year for the last two decades.

    Alternately, the heavy press coverage about breast cancer has (wrongfully) convinced about 46% of the female adults in the United States that cancer (not heart disease) is their biggest health threat.1
  2. Symptoms:  This one is more a lack of symptoms. Many, many women (two-thirds, according to the CDC) experience no signs of a heart attack before it happens.2 When they do get warnings from their bodies, they might not connect them to a heart event. Female symptoms can be very different than male symptoms (and what they’ve seen or heard).

    They might consider them minor or ignore them completely. You might experience pain in your chest, neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back. You may also feel out of breath, have indigestion, be unusually tired, or feel a fluttering in your chest.
  3. Inequality:  Clinical trials done by doctors, organizations, and universities around the world are typically made up of 75% male participants (or more). If you study the female heart one-quarter of the time, you probably miss a lot of critical differences.

    There’s a saying in the medical community that men’s hearts explode and women’s hearts erode. That explains why symptoms would be minor (or nonexistent) for women and why they develop heart disease later in life than men. Had they studied women as much as men, they probably would have learned this information decades ago rather than in the last 10 years or so.

Heart disease kills women and men around the world more than any other disease (by a lot).  It’s been the #1 cause of death in the United States for almost 100 years (since 1921). Heart disease and stroke account for more than 40% of all deaths globally.3  

While the signs, treatment, or seriousness may be underplayed when a woman is in the midst of a heart event, the risk factors that can lead to it are similar for both genders.

Primary Heart Disease Risks for Women and Men

  • Being overweight, obese, or “skinny fat” (metabolically obese normal weight)
  • Poor diet (junk food, fast food, processed food)
  • Sedentary lifestyle (also, long periods of sitting – even if you exercise)
  • Excessive alcohol (more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 drink a day for women)
  • Tobacco use (all kinds, all forms, all amounts)
  • Diabetes (this disease substantially raises your risk of heart disease)
  • Prehypertension (consistently over 120/80) or hypertension (140/90 and up)
  • Chronic stress (defined as stress that lasts for more than a day or two)

The last one is becoming an epidemic all its own.  Chronic stress is literally beating up our bodies and making us sick.  This is mainly due to the rampant inflammation caused by “stress hormones” (cortisol and adrenaline) that flood your system when you’re tense or upset for sustained periods.

Heart disease isn’t the only major disease that lists chronic stress (and inflammation) as a primary bio-marker.  However, it is the most critical because it claims so many already.

Stress is a particularly dangerous heart disease risk for women, according to findings released by the Medical University of Vienna.  Researchers wanted to know why so many women younger than 55 were dying of heart attack and stroke (most female deaths are after age 55).

They discovered the underlying answer was stress.  

They also determined that even if both men and women shared the same risk factors otherwise (smoking, obesity, poor diet, and so on), women’s bodies experienced a greater impact.  

Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, professor of Gender Medicine at the university, explained, “Women have a different age distribution, other clusters of risk factors and the vascular changes in the heart also differ morphologically [structurally].  The diagnosis and therapy are often more difficult: examinations such as ECG or ergometry are less conclusive; even the heart attack blood markers in women could be improved with new, specific limit values and new gender-specific biomarkers could be established.”4 

The hearts of men and the hearts of women are the same and yet very different in how they function, how they age, and how they break down.

The hearts of men and the hearts of women are the same and yet very different in how they function, how they age, and how they break down.

Stress Isn’t New to Women

For most women, stress has always been a part of their daily life. They put other people and situations above their own health because that’s the way it’s always been. A difficult habit to break but one that needs to go because women are stressing and worrying themselves into sickness, depression, and early death.5

You probably know (by now) the importance of diet, exercise, sleep, and getting rid of bad habits to keep your mind, body, and spirit strong into oldest age.  You can make real, effective changes in your own life that safeguard your heart (and the rest of you, too).

Stress (coupled with all the other issues in our diet, lifestyle habits, environment, and so on) is a major heart disease risk to women.  Making small changes each day can help you begin to lower the stress (physically, mentally, emotionally, financially) that you’re going through.

You must make the health of your heart a priority.  You need to do it now. Experts worldwide agree that roughly 80% of heart disease cases are preventable.6

That’s a statistic you want to be part of!


1Circulation Medical Journal: Sex/Gender Differences in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention:
2U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Women and Heart Disease:
3World Health Organization - Cardiovascular disease -
4Science Daily: Female heart reacts more sensitively to stress -
5Prevention: Preventing Heart Attack: Three Women On a Mission -
6Mayo Clinic: Heart Disease -

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