Hormones can increase heart disease risk for women

Postmenopausal women have higher risk

Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:56:04 AM EST   Updated On: Oct 12 2013 05:15:12 PM EDT

Weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, family history, diet and exercise all play into the risk of heart disease for both men and women, but there's one additional factor for women: hormones.

Three years ago, Natalie Baro's husband died from a heart attack at age 50. She said she started experiencing some pain in the months after his death.

"I was feeling this tightening around my neck and back pain and I didn't think much of it, but I did go see a doctor because I became scared after he just dropped dead in five minutes," Baro explained.

Tests revealed one of the main arteries to her heart was almost completely blocked.

"After a women go through menopause, they're actually going to have a higher risk of heart disease, just like as men as they increase in age they are going to have a higher risk. Women do as well, but for women it's more from a hormonal standpoint," explained Tiffany Sizemore-Ruiz, with the American Heart Association.

Doctor say men and women can experience some of the same symptoms, such as chest and arm pain. Women, however, are more likely than men to suffer tightening of the jaw, nausea, shortness of breath and back pain.

People often correlate these symptoms to other things in their lives, but when it occurs too often, that's when they should have it checked out, said Sizemore-Ruiz.

It is known that both men and women can benefit from a healthy diet and exercise, and in some cases, statin therapy. But some doctors say that estrogen replacement therapy could be harmful to the heart. It is recommended to weigh the risks and benefits with a doctor.