Heart disease is not a "man's disease."
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, according to the American Heart Association. Every year, nearly half of all women who die, die from heart disease.
Most women begin to develop heart disease or experience heart complications ten years later than men. This is most likely due to the protective effects of estrogen hormones in pre-menopausal women.
However, women at any age can have heart disease or heart attacks. When other risk factors are present, the protective effects of estrogen are greatly decreased. Women with heart disease tend to be older than men with heart disease, but women have an increased frequency of all heart disease risk factors, except for smoking.
HealthEast Women's HeartAdvantage
Women's HeartAdvantage educates women about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Go to the Women's HeartAdvantage section to learn about:
- Risk factors
- Reducing your risk
- Critical questions to ask your doctor
Warning signs in women
If you experience signs of a possible heart attack, call 911 immediately.
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, jaw or arms.
- Chest discomfort may also be experienced in the upper back between the shoulder blades.
- Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
Less common signs in women:
- Atypical chest pain, stomach or abdominal pain.
- Unexplained weakness, fatigue or anxiety.
- Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness.
- Shortness of breath (often associated with the signs listed above).