How do you take care of your heart after 40?
As you find yourself hitting 40, you may start thinking about health issues you previously didn’t concern yourself with. Should heart health be one of them?
Small vessel disease occurs when the heart's small arteries narrow. The small vessels in the heart expand when you’re physically active and need additional oxygen in the blood. When they narrow due to small vessel disease, they don’t expand with activity.
Risk factors for small vessel disease include:
Many of these risk factors can be reduced or eliminated by changing your lifestyle. Researchers believe women are more likely than men to develop small vessel disease. Patients with diabetes are also known to develop small vessel disease.
Small vessel disease can cause chest pain and symptoms similar to a heart attack, including:
The chest pain often occurs during activity.
Diagnosis is typically made if you have ongoing symptoms and significant disease in the main arteries has been excluded. Tests to diagnose small vessel disease are similar to those for other types of heart disease:
Small vessel disease is treated with medication to halt narrowing of the small blood vessels. Because these vessels are so small, surgery is not usually an option.
Studies have shown that women with ongoing chest pain (even with normal main heart arteries) have a higher incidence of cardiac events than those without chest pain. These women are often undiagnosed and untreated for small vessel disease.
Angiotension-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotension II receptor blockers (ARBS), statins, beta-blockers and aspirin therapy may be prescribed to treat small vessel disease.