According to the NIH(National Institutes of Health) although many people think of heart disease as a man's problem, women can and do get heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. It is also a leading cause of disability among women.
The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time. It's the major reason people have heart attacks. Prevention is important. When plaque builds up in the body's arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This may limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.
Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. For example, if plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries, a heart attack can occur. If plaque builds up in the carotid arteries, a stroke can occur.A stroke also can occur if blood clots form in the carotid arteries. This can happen if the plaque in an artery cracks or ruptures. This can block blood flow in the artery and cause a stroke.
Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until the carotid arteries are severely narrowed or blocked. For some people, a stroke is the first sign of the disease.
The older a woman gets, the more likely she is to get heart disease. But women of all ages should be concerned about heart disease. All women can take steps to prevent it by practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, medicines, and medical procedures can help prevent or treat carotid artery disease and may reduce the risk of stroke.
You have the best chance for full recovery if treatment to open a blocked artery is given within 4 hours of symptom onset. The sooner treatment occurs, the better your chances of recovery.
See your doctor immediately if you experience:
Sudden weakness or numbness in the face or limbs, often on just one side of the body
The inability to move one or more of your limbs
Trouble speaking or understanding speech
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Dizziness or loss of balance
A sudden, severe headache with no known cause