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Women and Heart Disease

503-962-1000 (Portland)
503-962-1000 (Portland)
541-732-7850 (Medford)

Women and Heart Disease

503-962-1000 (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.
Heart wellness for women

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, but many don’t know they’re at risk. Our focus on women’s heart health and wellness aids in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Your cardiac health assessment allows us to work together to reduce the number of women – mothers, grandmothers, sisters, partners, friends – experiencing heart disease each year. We are here to support you with free educational classes and fitness programs to help support your healthy lifestyle.

Women’s heart assessment

You will receive a comprehensive and personalized cardiac risk assessment for diagnosis and prevention of cardiovascular disease. The assessment may include:

  • Physical examination
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Blood pressure
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Review of lipid profile
  • Fasting blood sugar test
  • Family history assessment
  • Pregnancy history
  • Assessment/counseling on
    hormone replacement therapy/oral contraceptive use
  • Depression scale assessment
  • Screening questionnaire for sleep apnea
  • Exercise assessment
  • Nutrition/dietary assessment
  • Smoking cessation resources
  • Discuss appropriateness of aspirin for primary prevention
  • Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD)
    risk score calculation

Additional cardiac testing recommendations (if appropriate):

  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress testing
  • Coronary angiogram
  • Coronary calcium scan

Call 503-962-1000 today to make an appointment at our Portland location.

Providence Heart Clinic – St. Vincent
9427 SW Barnes Road, Suite 495
Portland, OR 97225

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At Women and Heart Disease, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.