BHealthy Blog

Women And Heart Disease Facts

Scott Davis, MD

Do you know the leading cause of death in women in the United States?

Heart disease is currently the number-one cause of death among women in the U.S., killing more than all cancers combined. Many women fail to realize that something is seriously wrong until it’s too late. Awareness has increased over the past decade, however only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer. Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms – this correlates to 1 in 4 women.

Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

What are the symptoms of heart disease in women?

  • Heart Attack
    • Dull, heavy to sharp chest pain or discomfort
    • Upper body discomfort, such as pain in the back/neck/jaw/throat/shoulders/arms
    • Indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting
    • Extreme fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
  • Arrhythmia
    • Fluttering feelings in the chest (Palpitations)
  • Heart Failure
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen
    • Pain or discomfort in the neck/jaw/throat/shoulder/back or arm
    • Pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting, or a feeling similar to indigestion.
    • Some women have no symptoms.
  • Stroke
    • Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move)
    • Numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body
    • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
    • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
    • Shortness of breath, dizziness
    • Loss of balance or coordination
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Sudden and severe headache

What are some risk factors for women?

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

What can you do to reduce your chances of heart disease?

  • Know your blood pressure and have it checked regularly
  • Be screened for diabetes
  • Quit smoking
  • Be screened for high cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Make healthy food choice, limit alcohol intake and lose weight
  • Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress