Infographic: Women and Heart Disease

Women and Heart Disease: Know the Signs

It's often thought that heart disease only affects men, but it affects women too.

  • 44 million women are affected every year.
  • 1 in 4 deaths in women result from heart disease.
  • 90% of all women have one or more heart disease risk factors.

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.
  • Noticeable symptoms may be ignored or dismissed.

What are the traditional risk factors for heart disease?

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking*

*Carries greater risk in women

What are the unique risk factors for women:

  • Menopause
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Pregnancy complications

Symptoms and signs common in women:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • 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?

Take control of risk factors

  • Take up exercise.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins.
  • Quit smoking.

Speak up and request screening

  • Schedule wellness visits and ask for screening.
  • Know your numbers — blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose.

Be proactive

  • 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.