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Heart Health for Women

Startling Facts

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 5 female deaths each year. Heart disease kills six times more women every year than breast cancer. According to the CDC:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in black and white women.
  • Heart disease among American Indian and Alaska Native women, heart disease, and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths per year.
  • For Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer as a cause of death.

We can prevent 80% of heart disease and strokes with education and lifestyle changes.

Fewer women than men survive their first heart attack.

On average, women get heart disease at an older age than men.

Symptoms are not always the same in women as they are in men, and may include:

  • Squeezing, tightness, or pressure in the chest
  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

Heart disease risk factors:

  • Smoking (a greater risk factor for women than men)
  • Diabetes (a greater risk factor for women than men)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Mental stress and depression

What you can do now:

  • If you smoke, STOP!
  • Get active
  • Add fruits and vegetables
  • Aim for a healthy weight
  • Meet with your provider to discuss the prevention
  • Know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, and fasting glucose

Reduce your stress:

Not only does excessive stress lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, but it can also lead to bad habits that are risk factors (listed above under risk factors):

  • Speak to your doctor about stress in your life and how it may impact your health.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use.
  • Take deep breaths, and stretch regularly.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. Get in touch online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.

Remember: Prevention is the best medicine!