Management

Top Four Causes of Female Mortality and Treatment Advances

 

The leading causes of death in women are heart disease (22.3%), cancer (21.6%), chronic lower respiratory diseases (6.0%), and stroke (6.0%), according to the latest data, based on the year 2014, from the CDC. Despite these staggering statistics, however, new treatments continue to be developed—many of which will help lives and money. Here’s a closer look at the most common conditions within each cause of death category, measures being taken to prevent deaths associated with them, and the latest treatment advances.

 

HEART DISEASE AND STROKE

Cardiovascular disease, which refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or stroke—such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease—is the number one cause of heart disease and death in women. In 2013, nearly 300,000 women died of heart disease—which accounts for about one in every four female deaths, the CDC reports.

Risk factors

Having high blood pressure is a major controllable risk factor for heart disease in women, and is the leading risk factor for heart failure and other heart-related conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and atrial fibrillation, says Carl J. PepineMD, cochair of the Cardiovascular Disease in Women Council, American College of Cardiology, and professor and emeritus chief, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Shands Hospital at the University of Floridaan academic health center in Gainesville, FL. Other major modifiable risk factors for heart attack include smoking, being overweight or obese, having high blood sugar or diabetes, lack of physical activity, and high cholesterol.

In addition to hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol are risk factors for stroke, and women have more risk factors for stroke than men, says Tamer Abdelhak, MD, division chief, Inpatient Neurology, Vascular Neurology, and NeuroCritical CareClinical Neurosciences DepartmentSpectrum Health, a not-for-profit integrated health system in Grand Rapids, MI. These risks include:

  • Taking birth control pills;
  • Natural bodily changes occurring as a result of pregnancy such as increased blood pressure and stress on the heart;
  •  Using hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms; and
  • Suffering from migraine headaches with aura.

Women in hypercoagulable states, such as having more than one miscarriage or deep venous thrombosis, are also at risk for stroke, Pepine says. Smoking, inactivity, and being overweight or obese are risk factors as well.

 

 

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By Karen Appold

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