Heart Disease is Becoming More Common Among Women Over the Age of 45, Evidenced by Lisa Marie Presley’s Death of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

On January 12th, Lisa Marie Presley was rushed to the hospital after experiencing sudden cardiac arrest inside her ex-husband’s home, where she was living at the time. CPR was performed and her heartbeat was restored, but she suffered a second cardiac arrest at the hospital – at which point, she passed away. 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), ‘cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping.’ This is not to be confused with a heart attack – one of the leading causes of cardiac arrest and occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, clogged, or severely reduced.

Lisa Marie Presley's Son and Elvis' Grandson Benjamin Keough Died By Suicide
Lisa Marie/Instagram

While cardiac arrest is much more common in men than women and it’s ‘relatively’ rare for a woman to die from cardiac arrest, Presley’s death is one indication that times might be changing. In fact, recent studies are already showing a sudden increase in women above the age of 45 developing heart disease.

RELATED: Lisa Marie Presley to be Buried Next to Son at Graceland, Where Her Father – Elvis Presley – Called Home

Dr. Sheila Sahni with Hackensack Meridian Health’s JFK University Medical Center spoke to TODAY about her concern over the findings. “I really want this to be an eye opener for women to recognize that heart disease is their No. 1 threat,” she said, expressing the importance of talking to your doctor. 

Sahni talked about some of the biggest risk factors for heart disease in women, listing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, smoking, being overweight, physical inactivity, anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, menopause, and chemotherapy as some of the most notable. 

Of course, she also added that a family history of heart disease could increase the risk of developing the same – not just in a woman, but in anyone. In fact, this is true with many different diseases, illnesses, and conditions that can severely impact an individual’s life and, in some cases, put their life in harm’s way. 

This is important to note because Lisa Marie Presley’s father, Elvis Presley, passed away at the age of 42 due to a heart attack and cardiac arrest. Not only that, but Elvis’ mother, Gladys Presley, also passed away due to a heart attack – she was just 46 years old. It’s just another reason to visit your doctor. 

Understanding the Symptoms of Heart Disease in Women 

According to Dr. Stacey Rosen, senior vice president for the Katz Institute for Women’s Health (KIWH), women have a tendency to put their health last – often ignoring some of the most common symptoms of heart disease. At the same time, they’re more likely to experience what she calls ‘nonspecific symptoms.’ 

Aside from pain or discomfort in the chest, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting, Rosen says women might experience other, non-traditional symptoms – such as discomfort in the jaw, indigestion, fatigue, pain in one or both arms, migraines, and discomfort in the neck or shoulder area. 

“These are symptoms that are new. If you feel unusual fatigue throughout the day of your work week, it’s probably not a heart attack. But if something comes on … with exertion and doesn’t go away with rest, you need to be thinking about a heart attack or about your heart in general,” adds Dr. Sheila Sahni. 

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While there are a lot of things women can do to prevent heart disease – healthier lifestyle choices being one of them – perhaps the most important is maintaining an open and ongoing conversation with your healthcare team. Regular appointments and transparency go a long way in staying healthy and alive.

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