From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Heart Health, Women's Health

Women and heart disease: what every woman should know

Palmetto Heart - Sumter
You may be surprised to know that heart disease is the leading killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, approximately one woman dies from heart disease every minute. During a heart attack, women may experience different symptoms than men and may ignore the more subtle symptoms. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Heart attack symptoms in women

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Pain in neck, arm, throat, back or abdomen
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
Fortunately, heart disease is treatable, but preventing heart disease from developing is best. Risk factors are conditions or habits that make it more likely you will develop a disease. Ninety percent of women have more than one risk factor for developing heart disease, and each risk factor greatly increases a woman’s chance of developing heart disease.

Risk factors for heart disease

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
Although there are some risk factors, such as age, that you cannot control, the good news is there are many risk factors you can influence.

Ways to reduce risk of heart disease

  • Schedule routine visits to primary care provider, including monitoring blood pressure, laboratory values and weight
  • Engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes five days per week
  • Control your blood pressure; the goal should be less than 130/80 mmHg
  • Do not smoke or take recreational drugs
  • Limit alcohol to one alcoholic drink or less per day for women 

1. American College of Cardiology
Heart House
2400 N St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
800-253-4636, ext. 5603 or 202-375-6000
Fax: 202-375-7000
2. American Heart Association
American Heart Association National Center
7272 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75231
1-800-AHA-USA-1 or 1-800-242-8721
3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Eat for a Healthy Heart
Department of Health and Human Services
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Phone: 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)

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