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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Women & Vascular Disease

Vascular disease is common among women in the United States. Vascular disease increases as women progress through menopause and reaches an incidence similar to men in the sixth and seventh decades of life. With the increase in the aging population in the United States and longevity in women, its prevalence is likely to increase significantly over the next few decades.

  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
    Because peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a marker for arterial disease elsewhere in the body, PAD is a significant predictor of heart attack (coronary arteries) and stroke (carotid arteries). Women with PAD have a two- to four-fold increase in cardiovascular death and disability.
  • Carotid Artery Disease
    Carotid artery disease is the single most important risk factor in the development of stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Approximately 100,000 American women die each year as a result of a stroke. Women account for more than 60 percent of all stroke deaths. African American women have a greater incidence of stroke and are more likely to die of a stroke than Caucasian women.
  • Venous Disease
    Venous disease, including deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins, affects a significant number of women. Because of the risk factors listed below, especially hormonal factors, birth control therapy, hormone replacement therapy and pregnancy, women are at risk for developing these venous disorders.

Risk Factors of Vascular Disease Unique to Women

Risk factors of vascular disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, heart disease and high blood cholesterol, play a significant role in the development of vascular disease and modification of these risk factors has a significant impact on reducing death and disability. Risk factors that are particularly unique to women include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Thick waist and high blood fat levels in post-menopausal women (increased stroke risk)
  • Migraine headaches (increased stroke risk)

Clinical Trials

For more information regarding clinical trials related to vascular disease, visit the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an e-mail or call 312-926-4000.

Contact Us Today

For more information regarding vascular disease, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 866-662-8467. To schedule an appointment, please call 312-695-4965 or request a first-time appointment online.



Last UpdateNovember 26, 2012