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Providence Women's Heart Disease Program

503-216-2088 (Portland)
541-732-7850 (Medford)

Providence Women's Heart Disease Program

503-216-2088 (Portland)
541-732-7850 (Medford)

At Providence Heart Institute, we treat the whole woman to provide exceptional heart health care. Heart disease in women can be different than heart disease in men and this requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis, management and prevention.

There are multigenerational issues which can impact the future heart health of women including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Gestational hypertension
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)
  • Microvascular disease
  • Coronary artery vasospasm
  • Stress (Takotsubo) cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (diastolic heart failure) and reduced ejection fraction (systolic heart failure)
  • Rhythm abnormalities, including atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of maternal mortality in the United States. Pregnancy has been described as "nature's stress test" as the physiologic stressors of pregnancy can lead to the development of certain complications which may be an indicator of a woman’s susceptibility to future diseases. The following pregnancy-related conditions can double a woman's risk of developing heart disease later in life:

  • Gestational diabetes: A condition with elevated level of glucose in the blood which is first diagnosed during pregnancy. The placental hormones prevent the body from utilizing insulin effectively.  This condition typically resolves after birth but women who develop gestational diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes in the future.
  • Gestational hypertension: A condition with blood pressure readings higher than 140/90 mm Hg in a woman who had normal blood pressure prior to 20 weeks and has no proteinuria (excess protein in the urine).  
  • Pre-eclampsia: Gestational hypertension with excess protein in the urine.
  • Eclampsia: A severe form of preeclampsia in which women can have seizures resulting from the condition.
  • Preterm labor: Preterm labor occurs when labor occurs before week 37 of pregnancy. 
    Intrauterine growth restriction: A condition in which a baby does not grow to normal weight during pregnancy.
  • Women who develop peripartum cardiomyopathy which is a weakening of the heart muscle are at a 4x higher risk of developing heart failure in the future.  
Source: Graves, M. et al (2019). Pregnancy-related cardiovascular risk indicators. Canadian Family Physician, 65(12), 883-889.

Providence Heart Institute’s Basecamp Prevention + Wellness believes in the power of people experiencing better health together. Offering free health and wellness classes and programs available to anyone wishing to live their best, healthiest lives.

Providence offers classes for all stages of pregnancy through our Health Education center: