Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease. For some reason, it’s often thought of as a man’s disease. Yet, heart disease is the number one killer of American women. In fact, it kills more women each year than the next three causes combined, including all forms of cancer. The good news is that heart disease IS preventable.

The Scary Statistics

  • About the same number of women and men die of heart disease in the U.S. each year.
  • One woman dies of heart disease every minute.
  • 64 percent of women who died suddenly from coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
  • Women have higher rates of death and heart failure after having a heart attack than men.

Risk Factors You Can Change

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Stress
  • Obesity

Risk Factors You Cannot Change

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Post-menopausal

How to Reduce Your Risks

  • If you’re a smoker, the most important thing you can do for your health is to quit.
  • Eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits and fiber.
  • Get moving! Exercise, even starting with an easy walk, is key to improving your health.
  • Know your numbers: Cholesterol (HDL and LDL), blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • Reduce your stress level.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Did you know that heart attack symptoms in women can be very different than in men? That “elephant on your chest” sensation is often not a symptom women experience. In fact, symptoms in women can be subtle and “come and go.” Symptoms may include:

  • Chest pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the upper back, shoulders, neck or jaw
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms: nausea, cold sweats

What Should You Do?

It’s always better to be safe than sorry! If you are experiencing these symptoms – even if you’re uncertain or the symptoms are not severe – call 911 immediately. Dismissing the symptoms can delay lifesaving actions!

Take charge of your health. Talk with your physician or healthcare provider about your risk of heart disease.