Women and Heart Disease

women heart health

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women? According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1 in 5 female deaths is attributed directly to this cause. And 1 in 16 women age 20 and up have coronary heart disease, the most common type. So what is heart disease and what can we do about it?

Heart Disease:

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is an umbrella term for conditions affecting the heart and the way it functions. The most common type is coronary artery disease. In people with this condition, the arteries have become clogged with a plaque buildup. Because of this buildup, it’s harder for your heart to pump blood through your body. Coronary artery disease in turn leads to coronary heart disease.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms to watch out for may include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Chest pressure or tightness
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue

What are some heart disease risk factors?

We all know we should watch our weight and avoid smoking for our overall health. But, they are also risk factors for heart disease. Stress is also an important factor. According to the American Heart Association, chronic stress may lead to high blood pressure which in turn, may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Do You Have a Double Dose of Stress?

According to a study on women, work and family from Kaiser Family Foundation, both before and after the pandemic, family responsibilities largely fall on the oldest woman in the household. So many of them hold down a job as well, whether they work-from-home, or in an office. They face work stressors during the day and then come home to lead their families, facing even more stress. Unfortunately, this double dose of stress is chronic in too many cases. And as we just learned, that may be a BIG problem for their heart health.

What Habits May Help?

Busy women may look at a list of healthy habits to lower their risk of heart disease and say they don’t have time. But, their lives may depend on it. So, what can women do to reduce heart disease?

  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking, if you do
  • Get enough sleep
  • Manage your stress

What Can Employers Do to Help?

Women make a big impact in their workplaces, and their employers would be smart to help them manage their stress to reduce heart disease. How? Managers should look at their benefits plans to see if they offer enough affordable access to health and wellness programs.

Employee Assistance Programs

By offering an employee wellness program, you may encourage your female staff to start a gym club, where they all go to exercise their stress away. Or, management could offer a discount program to local, healthy restaurants, so they can buy healthy lunches and/or take healthy, ready-made meals home to their families.

Sleep Aids

Do your female employees lay awake at night thinking about work? They may sleep better with over-the-counter sleep aids, sleep masks, or sleep deprivation treatments. These may be eligible expenses for FSA (Flexible Savings Account) and HSA (Health Savings Account) account holders.

Stop Smoking Aids

For those female employees who need help to quit smoking, offer an FSA or an HSA. Programs to stop smoking, gums and patches are all eligible for reimbursement. And if those don’t work, copays and deductibles for behavioral therapy appointments are eligible as well.

Stress Management

And now for a really important one…stress management. Female employees may be stressed for a few reasons. If they’re caring for children, aging parents or both, they may be stressed by the high cost of care programs. By offering a Dependent Care Assistance Program, you can enable them to pay for care services while reaping tax benefits. If they are stressed about paying back student loans, or paying for their children’s student loans, consider a Student Loan Assistance Program. Or maybe their stress has created generalized anxiety. In that case, an FSA, an HSA or an HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) may help.

According to the Department of Labor, in 2020, women were 43.6% of the full-time workforce. They were 63% of the part-time workforce. According to Family Caregiver Alliance, more than half of employed caregivers work full-time, at 56%. This part of the workforce makes a tremendous impact both in the workplace and at home. Help them to help you more by considering creative benefit options.

Captain Contributor is an award-winning employee education and engagement program offered by DataPath, Inc.