Professor Claire Mounier-Véhier, cardiologist at the Lille University Hospital, continues to sound the alarm: women are more and more affected by cardiovascular diseases. Meeting with a fighter.
How to explain that cardiovascular diseases are the first cause of death for women?
C. M-V : Women live more “dangerously” than before, multiplying their cardiovascular risk factors: consumption of tobacco or alcohol, active professional life which results in more stress. An epidemiological bulletin from Public Health France indicates an increase of nearly 5% per year in hospitalizations of young women (45 to 54 years old) for myocardial infarction.
Are female hormones protective?
C. M-V : Indeed, estradiol (estrogen) promotes the dilation of the arteries and has an anticoagulant effect. But, in those who smoke or are hypertensive, a cardiovascular accident can occur during the few days of the cycle (just before the rules) when the level of estradiol is very low. It is the same in premenopause when the production of estrogen by the ovaries becomes more irregular.
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Do Pregnancies Increase Your Risk?
C. M-V : Pregnancy is a strain on the heart, which is made to beat faster to “process” 5 additional liters of blood. When it takes place after 35 years, it can happen that the placenta releases inflammatory compounds that will damage the arteries of the mother-to-be. Women who are overweight or who smoke have a higher risk of developing hypertension or gestational diabetes.
Is menopause a crucial stage?
C. M-V : When the ovaries stop producing estradiol, the arteries become more rigid and the risk of thrombosis increases. In case of weight gain, the pounds are lodged around the belly, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or hypertension and therefore a stroke. It is essential to improve the hygiene of life from the pre-menopause. Women who have been early menopause, whatever the cause (oophorectomy, hormone therapy for endometriosis…) Must be particularly followed.
What are the signs of a stroke in women?
C. M-V : Chest tightness, palpitations, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath on exertion, persistent fatigue, are symptoms that should prompt women to dial 15. Other signs should alert, such as unusual migraines, speech problems or still pain when walking, in the calf, thigh or buttock.
What are the specific prevention measures for women?
The implementation of contraception involves an evaluation of the cardiovascular risk. Pills, patches or vaginal rings providing synthetic estrogen are contraindicated in women who are obese, smokers or have high blood pressure or who have already had a vascular accident or phlebitis. Women suffering from migraines with aura (visual disturbances or balance) or having suffered from breast cancer treated with chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy are at greater cardiovascular risk and should be monitored.
To know more
-The book of Prof. Mounier-Véhier: My fight for the hearts of women, Ed. Marabout 2019.
-The Foundation website: Act for the hearts of women, agirpourlecoeurdesfemmes.com
Read also :
Article published in the issue Femme Actuelle Hors-série Santé of October 2020