COVID-19 could elevate risk of heart attacks in women, doctors warn

Health News

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death among Hispanic women

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Stress from the coronavirus pandemic could increase the risk of heart attacks in women, according to cardiologists with the American Heart Association – especially for those already living with heart disease.

For Hispanic women, the risk is even higher. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death among Hispanic women.

“Cardiovascular disease continues to be the primary cause of death of U.S. Latinas and it’s important to understand that there are biological differences between men and women,” American Heart Association Volunteer Medical Expert Dr. Monik Jimenez said.

Only one in three women is aware of this health threat, according to the AHA.

Claudia Mercado was not aware.

“With my first heart attack, I confused it with indigestion,” Mercado said.

Mercado experienced her first heart attack at 45 years old and is now a two-time heart attack survivor. She was fully prepared to take action during her second heart attack after educating herself about her risk. She’s sharing her story, now more than ever, as people are under unsurmountable stress from COVID-19.

“We know that when the body is under stress, that it increases our risk for health problems like high blood pressure, weight gain, problems sleeping and heart disease,” Dr. Jimenez said.

Symptoms of a heart attack in women include neck pain, back pain, nausea and shortness of breath. None of these should be ignored or dismissed, says Dr. Jimenez. You should get medical help immediately.

Knowing this all too well, Mercado now volunteers with AHA to help Latina women prioritize their health as she continues her fight to manage her disease.

“My life is so different. First, I take a lot of medicines, eat healthier, stay active,” she said.

The American Heart Association recommends that women start getting screened for cardiovascular disease as early as 20 years old. As the pandemic continues, it’s also important to keep up with your doctor check-ups. You can find more information and recommendations on the AHA website.

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