Women and Heart Disease: Recognize the Signs
It's often thought that heart disease only affects men, but it affects women too.
- 44 million U.S. women are affected
- 90% of women have one or more heart disease risk factors
- 1 in 4 deaths in women result from heart disease
The good news:
- 80% of risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle changes
- Greater awareness can improve the chance of catching heart disease sooner
Why isn't heart disease detected in women more often?
- Symptoms can often be different than the well-known symptoms in men
- Some women show no symptoms
- Any noticeable symptoms may be ignored or dismissed
How is heart disease in women different?
Traditional risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
*Carries greater risk in women
Unique risk factors for women:
- Mental stress and depression
- Pregnancy complications
Symptoms and signs common in women:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Neck, jaw, shoulder or upper back discomfort
- Chest pain, pressure or discomfort
- Pain in one or both arms
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal discomfort
What women can do to reduce risk and take control?
Speak up and request screening
- Schedule wellness visits and ask for screening
- Know your numbers – blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose
Take control of risk factors
- Quit smoking
- Take up exercise
- Eat a heart-healthy diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins
- If you are experiencing symptoms that could be due to your heart, get help
- Don't wait to call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room
Sources: MayoClinic.org; CDC.gov; Heart.org; GoRedForWomen.org; WHO.int.